Water way to see Austria


Sometimes I look at my life and wonder how I end up in the situations I find myself in. Karma? Kismet? Serendipity? These days it’s often down to this amazing Movement that I work for which has some magical ability to make me sign up to do things I would ordinarily find myself running away from and so this is how I ended up in Austria purifying water from a duck pond and only dreaming of eating Sachertorte.

The team at the raw water tank

As an Aquarian and a spa bunny, I’m quite a fan of H2O but this is the first time I got to understand how much time and effort (and money) go into producing clear, clean drinkable water. It is thanks to the Austrian Red Cross (ARC) that I now have an appreciation of this. I also have to thank the ARC and particularly the Austrian water and sanitation specialised water emergency response unit for showing me the alternative delights of Austria many of which are not featured in the Lonely Planet guidebook and through the fortunes of serendipity or a good search engine I am now able to share with you. So in no particularly order here is my list of the top five alternative Austrian must dos. More

Could you write about neglected crises?


If you think you could write about neglected crises then what’s stopping you? There’s still time to enter this year’s Guardian International Development Journalism competition. And if you’re good enough to make it to the top 16, you’ll be flown to a developing country and given a new assignment.

Displaced woman in Congo

Top of my list would be the Congo – you may remember the media attention it received last year following renewed fighting between government troops and the armed opposition in North Kivu. Over 250,000 people fled their homes and the Disasters Emergency Committee launched an appeal.

Yet despite this attention and celebrity support from Ben Affleck, who made a film called Gimme Shelter to raise awareness about the situation, the media spotlight quickly moved on, suffering as it does from ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).

In today’s Metro, there was a sneeze and you’ll miss it article quoting Oxfam on the ‘untold death and suffering’ among civilians that is currently taking place. And if you want to find out more about the sort of wounds being inflicted on people, read Ken Barrand’s delegate diary.

So your challenge, if you choose to accept it, is to write about an issue affecting the developing world which isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Ok, don’t tell anyone but here’s a few ideas… More

First aid for bashed up kids


It's never too early to learn first aid skillsHere’s an idea: ask your friends or work mates to name a memorable injury they incurred as a child. I’ve just spent three minutes asking around in the Red Cross office, and here’s a selection of what I got already:

1. Went clean through a plate glass window aged two.

2. Dad accidentally slammed a car boot door on head.

3. Knocked two front teeth out on playground climbing frame. Ouch.

4. Hospital visit to have a rubber removed from nose.

5. Hands-free cyclist caught flares in pedals of Chopper bike and ended up with a badly gashed mouth. More

Swine flu and the hand washing bug


The coverage from some corners of the media about swine flu is enough to make me have a serious attack of obsessive hand, home and everything washing.

Even as I type this, I’m wondering just how many dangerous germs are lurking on my less than pristine keyboard. Should I be wearing gloves? An airtight suit perhaps?


What does the British Red Cross represent to you?


If you had asked me that same question three years ago I would have replied with something like this,,,,,,,

“The Red Cross works exclusively overseas in areas of conflict and disaster handing out food packs to hoards of starving people from little, white, beaten down Land Rovers.” I probably would have also added that I believed the Red Cross was a religious organisation – you know, with the cross as their emblem.


Fighting fear and fire in California


This weekend I got some scary news. My brother is a firefighter in southern California, and he’s one of around 2,300 firefighters who’ve been fighting the Santa Barbara wildfires for the past few days.

I talked to his fiancée this weekend (they’re getting married in 10 days!) and she said Rob and some of the other firefighters had been at someone’s house waiting for an assignment when the fire suddenly came over a nearby hill straight toward them. They had to scramble to get their gear on and start fighting it. More

All hands to the bucket


It was “all hands to the bucket” last week during Red Cross Appeal Week. On Friday Sahra and I collected at a garden centre near Bristol – it was certainly a case of “come rain or shine” not to mention wind – we were pretty cold at the end of two hours.

But it was well worth it as a lot of people put money in our buckets and it is encouraging to know that so many want to give money to the Red Cross. Several people told us that the Red Cross is their favourite charity. More

Monday Movement Update #8


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

Several people in Sri LankaSwine flu: Read about Raúl Serrato, one of the Mexican Red Cross volunteers who’s helping distribute health information.

Sri Lanka conflict (pictured right): The ICRC has evacuated 13,000 people from the conflict zone since 10 February. Find out more about the work they’re doing.