Diana Shaw

Diana writes on all things Red Cross.

Posts by Diana Shaw:

Child safety, Afghan style

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Three girls play as they pump water from a well

In the UK, keeping children safe means babyproofing your home or teaching youngsters to look both ways before crossing the road.

In Afghanistan, it could mean stopping children dying from diseases picked up from human waste.

More than just a nuisance

For most people in Britain, diarrhoea is a nuisance that can be easily treated. If a child is very badly affected, care is always available.

But in some countries, diarrhoea is life threatening.

Nearly 1.3 million children under five die from diarrhoea worldwide, making it the second most common cause of child deaths.

In fact, over half of these deaths occur in just five countries. Afghanistan is one of them.

What makes this even sadder is that children’s lives could be saved if communities had clean water, toilets and hand-washing facilities.

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Happy birthday Nishan: one family’s story of courage and strength in Nepal

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Dolma holds Nishan next to a neighbour carrying hay on her head

Little Nishan is nearly ready to walk. “Then our lives will become even more hectic,” his mother Dolma says, with a smile.

Laughing together, Dolma and Nishan seem like any happy mother and baby. But standing with Dolma in the ruins of the family home, Nishan can’t know the danger he has been in during his short life.

This time last year, Dolma was only ten days away from giving birth.

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From garden to plate in Nepal

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Kanchhi Laamichhane holds a bowl of corn kernals in front of her home

Who doesn’t like the idea of growing fresh and nourishing vegetables, then cooking a delicious dinner?

But this takes on a new meaning in Nepal, which only last year was struck by two enormous earthquakes.

Thousands of people died and many others lost their food, crops, farm equipment and homes.

Since then, the Red Cross has given 3,000 farming families grants to replace the seeds and tools they need.

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Nepal floods: mothers with a mission

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Photograph of Padma, leader of the flood committee in her village in Nepal

Padma

Padma could have kept quiet. Many women in her small community in Nepal do.

Fair enough – they are usually working very hard. Their husbands mostly live abroad to earn extra money so they have sole responsibility for their children, livestock and homes.

Many also work on tea plantations, earning as little as £1.20 a day for their labour – less than the cost of a mother’s day card in the UK.

Padma makes ends meet for herself, her son and daughter by raising two goats, two cows and seven chickens on a small piece of land.

But she spoke up because, on top of all of this, her home and land are threatened by regular flooding. So are most houses in her village, which lies in a flood plain near the Mechi River in Nepal’s Terai region.

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Volunteering in Syria, for worse and for better

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Children and SARC volunteers sit in a circle and play with Lego in Homs, Syria

A children’s centre in  Syria – © Syrian Arab Red Crescent

Excited young faces look round a stack of brightly coloured Lego. Who can build the tallest tower? Whose will be the most colourful?

You can see similar scenes anywhere in the world, but these children are in Homs, a key battleground in the Syrian conflict.

Playing with toys like Lego and talking to the children is just one of the ways the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) – a partner to the British Red Cross – gives emotional and psychological support to children living through the war.

It brings some fun and a brief respite to children who have already seen more than most.

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When Facebook saved lives in Nepal

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Men use ropes to move boulders in a destroyed building

5.6 million people were affected by the Nepal earthquake © Palani Mohan/IFRC

This is a guest post by Ruth Newman, Nepal programme officer for the British Red Cross

When the massive earthquake struck Nepal’s Kathmandu Valley last April, I was about to board a plane on the other side of the country. Not knowing about the quake, I landed in Kathmandu less than two hours later surrounded by panic and devastation – buildings had crumbled, people were trapped, and electricity supplies and mobile phone networks were down.

But there was a wifi connection so I quickly logged onto Facebook on my phone to tell family and friends that I was OK.

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How one challenge led to another: climbing Mt Kilimanjaro for the British Red Cross

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Rachael trekking in Nepal

Rachael trekking in Nepal

This is a guest post by Rachael Fisher Hart, a British Red Cross supporter

On 29 January I’ll be facing one of the biggest challenges of my life: climbing Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds for the British Red Cross.

Another challenge, and the British Red Cross worker who supported me when I needed it most, inspired me to take on this hard but rewarding adventure. More