A reason to smile: World Red Cross Day

Aid Worker and Beneficiary smiling.
To smile; to beam, to laugh, to be happy. Smiling is a simple act yet its impacts and implications are so powerful.
A smile could be a sign of comfort to those who lost their home during a flood or the result of receiving fresh water during a drought.


Did you know?

The Movement is made up of 100 million members – volunteers and supporters.

What is World Red Cross Day?
Today we have a reason to smile, because we’re celebrating the Red Cross Movement. We celebrate the values of the Red Cross including, supporting the most vulnerable and strengthening communities. We celebrate showing humanity in the midst of inhumanity. World Red Cross Day is celebrated on May 8th in honour of the man who had a vision that ignited the Red Cross Movement.

Baby laughing.
How did the Movement come to be?
Henry Dunant was born in Geneva on May 8th, 1828, and he was the man with that vision. In 1859, the spark for that vision occurred in Northern Italy outside of a village in Solferino. Here, the French and Austrian armies were fighting and Henry witnessed the horrors of many soldiers becoming wounded and dying. Henry found the medics could not cope with the wounded soldiers on both sides, so he set up a temporary hospital in a church to help the injured.

In 1862, Henry wrote a book, “Memory of Solferino” where he proposed that every country create a neutral and independent body of helpers who could provide care during war. Shortly after, he and a few others created the ICRC, International Committee of the Red Cross - and the Movement was born.


Did you know

Henry Dunant won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.

In 1864, the first Geneva Convention was created to guide the rules of war, a core piece to International Humanitarian Law. The goal was to protect those who do not take part in fighting and those who can no longer fight. In 1919, the IFRC, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, formed to coordinate and strengthen the work of societies internationally and help launch international appeals.

Volunteer smiling while holding a teddy bear.
What is happening today
Today, in Canada and around the world, there are 190 National Societies who are working to help the most vulnerable during disasters, strengthen communities’ health and preparedness, and spring into action when conflict arises. A simple vision from over a century ago, to show humanity and to make one another smile in a time of hardship, still lives on today.


Did you know?

More than 170 million people are reached globally by National Societies with health services every year.

Today, we also celebrate the core values of the Red Cross: our seven fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity, and universality.

The Red Cross is everywhere and for everyone. Check out this video to learn more: 


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