Where will you take your next poo?

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Hilarious article today in The Times about the new intricacies of courtship in India – the message being given to men is: “No toilet, no bride.”

Except you delve a little deeper into the article and quickly realise this story is more tragedy than comedy.

Many countries are in the same position as India – where millions of people are forced to defecate in the open because they have no toilets. In fact three billion people – that’s half the world’s population! – don’t have proper sanitation facilities. Not only does this cause massive spread of disease, it causes humiliation and can be dangerous. More

Have you reached your peak?

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Three people walkingThe other night my Mum plied me with wine and then said, quite casually: “Wouldn’t it be fun to do the 3 Peaks Challenge together?”

Now obviously my Mum, aged 63, is not typical. She is probably the fittest person I know and possesses such inexhaustible energy levels, that I sometimes wonder if she’s actually human.

If she’s not cycling to work, she’s playing tennis or rushing around completing chores from her eternal ‘to do’ list. The concept of sitting down and relaxing is an alien one. She also happened to do the 24 Peaks Challenge last year…as you do. More

Monday Movement update #3

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An elderly couple outside their home

Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Tuberculosis: Tomorrow (24 March) is World TB Day. The Red Cross is working to prevent the spread of TB and stop discrimination against those living with it.

Red Cross staff held hostage: Staff members of the ICRC have now been held hostage in the Philippines for more than two months. The chairman of the Philippines Red Cross was able to speak to Mary Jean Lacaba, Eugenio Vagni and Andreas Notter on 19 March.

Bangladesh cyclone recovery: Cyclone Sidr struck Bangladesh on 15 November 2007, destroying thousands of homes. Now the Red Cross is making sure families, like Oazed Mridha Fakir and Anwara Begum (pictured), have stronger houses.

Sri Lanka conflict: As fighting continues in Sri Lanka, the ICRC is working to bring those trapped in the middle a little hope.

Water and conflict: At the Fifth World Water Forum in Istanbul, the ICRC called on governements to ensure civilians have access to water during conflicts. Read an interview with Robert Mardini, head of the ICRC’s water and habitat unit.

*The Movement is made of 186 National Societies (including the British Red Cross), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation.

Image © Sanjida S. Tawhid/IFRC

Pyjama party

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Two women and a baby

It’s 3am, pouring with rain and only two degrees, so why is there a family in the middle of the road wearing only their pyjamas?

This is a scene that our fire and emergency support service volunteers see all the time. In our spare time we volunteer to be on call helping the fire service look after people who have been in a fire or flood. We’re also working with south Wales police on a new idea to help victims of crime, but more about that in a future blog.

So what do we do? Some nights all we do is make people a cup of tea and sit with them while they tell us what’s happened. Other nights you might see us trying to rehouse a pet snake, reclothe a whole family or find emergency accommodation for somebody whose house has been burnt to the ground.

I guess you might be wondering why we do it. After all, getting up in the wee hours of the morning can be a real pain, especially in the middle of winter. And it’s even worse if you have to go straight to work once you’ve finished your volunteering. More

First aid and whisky

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First-aid-and-whisky-BLOGI almost died when I was 40 seconds old.

Seriously. That’s not just some snappy opening line carefully crafted to grab your attention; I genuinely did the whole ‘not-breathing-starting-to-turn-blue’ scenario before the umbilical cord had even been cut.

And guess what? A little basic first aid knowledge saved my life.

Here’s how it happened: I was born in our front room with only my Dad and a mid-wife present – I think my Mum might have been there too – and, once I’d popped out and they smacked my bum, I didn’t oblige with the usual coughing and breathing routine.

Getting a bit panicky, the mid-wife lifted young infant Cox (all six pounds, six ounces) by the feet and started shaking me like a rag-doll, but I only started to turn blue. More

Monday Movement update

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.A child drinks from a tap

World Water Day photos: More than a billion people lack a basic water supply and diarrhoeal diseases like cholera are on the rise. For World Water Day (22 March), the International Federation has created a photo gallery showing how it’s working with communities to improve their access to water.

Democratic Republic of Congo photo gallery: More than 1.2 million people have fled violence in North Kivu province since 2007. The ICRC has created a photo gallery on their website showing their work there. You can also read an interview with Carl de Keyzer, the Magnum Photos photographer who took the pictures.

Human trafficking in Eastern Europe: The Red Cross and other international organisations are warning the economic recession could lead to a rise in human trafficking.

Madagascar demonstrations: Political demonstrations in Madagascar have sparked violence for the past month and Malagasy Red Cross first aid volunteers have been out helping those caught up. They’re the only organisation providing first aid and getting people to hospital, making them local heroes.

*The Movement is made of 186 National Societies (including the British Red Cross), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation.

Image © Jakob Dall/Danish Red Cross