Away for the Holidays; Why One Humanitarian Traded a Winter Coat for the Red Vest

Topics: Ontario, Americas, Emergencies and Disasters Worldwide
Kirsten Long, Communications Coordinator | December 24, 2020

This holiday season will be far from ordinary for many of us due to COVID-19, but for Andrea Peters it will be completely different as she spends her time supporting hurricane relief efforts in Honduras. This will be Andrea’s first holiday season spent away from her family, but she says she feels fortunate to be there.

“I usually spend time with friends and family in Alberta, but this year I am a part of a team providing a crucial service for people whose holidays have been marked by two hurricanes and the loss of life, homes and possessions. It is humbling to be here, especially at this time of year, working alongside local staff and volunteers.”

One week before Christmas, Andrea boarded a flight from Toronto to join the Red Cross team in Honduras. Within the first few days of arriving, Andrea was impressed with the dedication of the local Honduras volunteers. Many of the them have been personally impacted by the hurricanes but continue to work or go to school, while also finding time to support the clinic and the community.

“It’s pretty amazing to see them showing up with smiles on their faces after 12 hours of work and dedicated to work alongside our team.” Andrea explained.

In early November of this year, two powerful hurricanes struck Central America causing extensive damage and impacting millions of people. With support from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Red Cross is operating an emergency health clinic in La Lima, Honduras, one of the most affected areas. The Red Cross team is providing treatment for common infections, chronic diseases, minor trauma and wounds, basic prenatal care and psychosocial support.

As the lead administrator, Andrea will support the health clinic with finance, human resources, accommodations for the team, information management and aspects of fleet and telecommunications. She will also work closely with the Honduran Red Cross to facilitate the eventual handover of the clinic.

This is Andrea’s second deployment with the emergency clinic; the first being to Bangladesh in 2018 to support the population movement as people fled violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. Although she is doing similar tasks, her work in Honduras looks a little different with the COVID-19 pandemic presenting new challenges. However, the Red Cross team is well prepared for those challenges and has implemented extensive epidemic prevention and control measures to ensure the the health and safety of staff, volunteers and patients.

Due to the pandemic, the team onsite in Honduras will be celebrating the holidays together however, they will be distanced to maintain health and safety protocols. Although Andrea won’t be home for the holidays, she says that she plans to keep one of her traditions alive - Boxing Day brunch with her friends from home, which will be virtual this year.

Canadians wishing to help the hurricane relief efforts are encouraged to make a donation to the Hurricane Eta in Central America Fund , which can be done online at www.redcross.ca or by calling 1-800-418-1111. Donations will enable the Red Cross to prepare for, respond to and help individuals in the impacted areas, including Honduras, Nicaragua and Guatemala, providing critical support for relief, health and recovery.