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Dr. Praphan Phanuphak: At the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention and research in Thailand

More than 30 years ago, Dr. Praphan Phanuphak diagnosed the first three cases of HIV in Thailand. It was February of 1985, and he was 35-years-old at the time. He was working at a hospital run by Thai Red Cross at. Four years after those first few cases, he co-founded the Thai Red Cross AIDS Research Centre, where he stills works today as its director. 

Being effective, come hell or high water

In Mali, the winter is not very wintry at all. Instead, it’s the rainy season. Every year between July and September, heavy rains fall across the country. Some regions, such as Sikasso, are hit harder than others and the damage goes far beyond material goods. Families are left homeless, flooded areas quickly become breeding grounds for diseases such as malaria, which is a leading cause of death in children under five.
Whether in Mali, in Canada, or elsewhere in the world, one of the essential roles of Red Cross volunteers is to support people affected by disasters. Lala is one of these volunteers.

Massive emergency response for Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina on Friday, bringing with it significant amounts of rain that could threaten lives. It’s anticipated that the rain will cause serious flooding in North Carolina, South Carolina and surrounding states. With evacuation orders issued to more than a million people, it is estimated that as many as 100,000 may need emergency shelter. The American Red Cross is launching a massive emergency response.  

Drones: A helpful eye in the sky

Imagine a disaster strikes and thousands upon thousands of people might be injured or trapped. How do you begin to assess the damage? Map out the impacted area? Determine where you are most needed? By using new innovations like drones, humanitarian organizations can get where they are needed faster.

​Closing the circle - an update on Ebola from on the ground in DRC

Twenty-four years after my very first mission with the Red Cross, I am grateful to be back in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The context this time is totally different from the one that had brought me to this country for my debut in the humanitarian world. Then it was a man-made catastrophe, the genocide in Rwanda. Now, it is nature’s work. Ebola, the deadly virus that killed thousands of people in West Africa, is back for the ninth time in the DRC.

How volcanoes exploded onto the scene

A volcano is essentially a vent in the Earth’s surface. But, instead of blowing warm air and keeping your feet toasty (like a vent in your home), a volcano exhausts gases, volcanic ash and lava. Volcanoes exist because the Earth’s surface (the crust) is made of tectonic plates and it is estimated that there are 1500 active volcanoes today. 

Rains in Kindo Koysha, Ethiopia: Predictably unpredictable

Nearly one year ago, my colleague Martin De Vries described the first rains of 2017 to fall on the desperately drought-affected district of Kindo Koysha in southern Ethiopia. The occasion was joyous but all too short-lived. As Martin concluded then: “Has the drought ended? Not by a long way.” I arrived in Ethiopia three months later to find incredibly resilient people coping with varying degrees of recurrent drought in their regular ways; ways unfathomable to most of us in Canada.

Walking to Kutupalong

By 9 a.m., fog has burned off and I am already looking for shade as we begin the hour-long walk through the makeshift settlement in Kutupalong. We are headed to the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society mobile clinic. After many trips, we know the trail reasonably well, only occasionally needing the local volunteers to guide us through new market areas or construction sites, which seem to appear everyday along the route. We are from different worlds - Bangladesh, Myanmar and Canada - yet we chat easily about the work day to come. What was chaotic and overwhelming a few weeks ago has become familiar – it is easy to forget that this great sprawling village is one of the largest camps of displaced people in the world.

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