What would you miss most? Rebuilding after Hurricane Irma

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If a huge hurricane blew away your home, what would you miss the most?

For Lorie, it was his treasured viola. “There’s no way I can replace my instrument, my viola,” he said. “It was just precious.”

The keen musician’s home and viola were damaged by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever seen in the Atlantic.

The huge storm damaged or destroyed almost every house in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Rebuilding is going slowly.

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Amanda saved her grandad after learning first aid

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Amanda stands with her arm on the shoulder of her grandada, who she helped with first aid when he was bleeding heavily

Amanda and her grandad © Mike Poloway/British Red Cross

It was a peaceful Sunday at home. But when there was a sudden emergency, Amanda knew how to help her grandad when he needed it most.

“I was in my house with my family, my boyfriend and my grandad. He’d come round for a visit and a cup of tea on a Sunday afternoon,” Amanda said.

“After a while, my grandad went up the stairs and a few moments later I heard him shouting my name.

“There hadn’t been a bang or anything, so I didn’t know at this stage he had fallen. But when I got to the bottom of the stairs he was propped up on the wall at the top.

“I could tell something was wrong. As I went up towards him he pulled up his trouser leg, and all this blood spurted all over the wall.

“He said he’d just lost his footing on the top step and fallen. He’d cut himself on the edge of the stair.”

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‘Knowing first aid helped me save a motorcyclist’s life’

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Helen Cowen used her first aid skills to save the life of a motorcyclist who crashed outside her home.

Not everyone could handle the sight of a bloodied motorcyclist with a badly severed leg. Helen Cowan could, and her first aid knowledge saved a man’s life.

“I had decided to sit in the garden one evening when I heard a loud crash,” Helen said.

“At first I thought something had fallen from our recently renovated house. But as I walked to the front of the house, I could see a small crowd gathered on the pavement outside.”

The scene outside her house was upsetting.

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Loss, courage and strength: Rahima from Myanmar tells her story

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Rahima, who fled her home in Myanmar, stands in a camp in Bangladesh

After fleeing her home in Myanmar and terrible suffering, Rahima still finds the strength to be positive about her new role in the community. © A J Ghani/British Red Cross

I met Rahima in Bangladesh when I visited with the British Red Cross. Like hundreds of thousands of others, she had fled her home in Myanmar. Deeply moved by her story, I promised to share it with the world.

“I am only 30 but I know I look older.” Rahima said.

“It is because I have been through so much.

“Though I am so sad, it is very important to tell our terrible story to the whole world.”

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Yemen’s healthcare in crisis: a doctor speaks out

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A boy walks among the rubble from a destroyed building in Yemen

© Yeyha Arhab/ICRC

“Here our job is human. I can’t leave it, I can’t stop.”

Dr Anisa, a doctor with British Red Cross partner the Yemen Red Crescent, speaks from a battered clinic in Sana’a, Yemen.

Once, she was a hospital specialist. The clinic was a thriving health centre for mothers and babies.

But now, Yemen is caught up in deadly conflict. Dr Anisa is now a GP working in one of the only clinics where people can get free healthcare. Patients travel for hours to see her every day.

Like many doctors in Yemen, she hasn’t been paid in two years.

But Dr Anisa keeps going: “The conflict has affected everyone, not just us. I can’t do anything else, this is my job.”

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Seven reasons why I feel hope for Zimbabwe

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A mother in Zimbabwe carrying her child on her back stands with a Red Cross flag in the background

© Victor Lacken/IFRC

Bumping along a dirt road for five hours, I caught my first glimpse of Zimbabwe’s rural villages rising up from the dust.

The capital, Harare, seemed modern and wealthy. The contrast with the poor country villages was extreme.

Yet the mood among the rural people was upbeat.

We arrived just after the harvest and people, poor as they still were, kept offering us freshly picked fruit and vegetables.

But the drought that stalked Zimbabwe for two years could come back at any time.

Crops would die and parents might skip meals to feed their children. Disease and malnutrition could even carry some youngsters away.

Despite all of this, I am optimistic about Zimbabwe’s future.

Here’s why:

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Thirteen Newcastle girls and one good deed for Syria

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The words 'Something for Syria' are spelled out in lightbulbs on a stage with the Wylams Brewery name behind them in purple lights

Sadly, news of people forced to flee their homes in Syria is in the headlines once again.

When similar stories came out of Aleppo, a group of women in Newcastle decided to do something for Syria.

Sarah Melling, one of the women behind this response, tells their story.

What hit me most was the doctor’s despair.

He was working in Syria with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) during the siege of Aleppo. His letter on the BBC website told a harrowing story.

His team was evacuating the most vulnerable people from a former old people’s home in the besieged city.

The home had become a refugee camp in a sea of smashed concrete that used to be a thriving city.

Some of the people they found were disabled or mentally ill and some just had nowhere else to go.

As the Red Cross and their partners the Syrian Arab Red Crescent arrived to rescue them, they sat among the bodies of other patients who had already died. There was no heating, medicine or fuel.

Then some soldiers arrived with six children, one just seven months old. All had been orphaned in the past few days and left alone in the rubble with nothing to eat.

They carried the children and old people on stretchers through deserted and damaged streets, helping those they could, but passing the bodies of those for whom it was already too late.

“I feel so very sad, today,” the doctor wrote.

“Please, there have to be some limits to this war.”

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David’s story: why immigration detention needs to change

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“I left Kenya because I was fleeing not only persecution but unjust abuses. It’s still happening now. It’s even worse.”

Before he left Kenya, David worked for the Kenyan Election Board. “I was being forced to do illegal activities… to steal the election,” he said.

David was attacked and stabbed when he was still in Kenya. Later, his former manager was murdered.

He is also gay and spoke out for the rights of the LGBT+ community while in Kenya. But homosexuality is illegal there.

“People are assaulted in gay prides,” David said. “People have to wear masks.”

David is now claiming asylum in the UK. If the Home Office decides that his case is strong enough, he will be allowed to live in Britain as a refugee.

Like many people in his position, David has to report to the Home Office regularly.

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