Cyclone Idai: meet the Red Cross volunteers saving lives and fighting cholera in Mozambique

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In Mozambique, a woman and two young children sit on a blanket on the floor in an evacuation centre after Cyclone Idai

Amelia and her children were rescued from floods by a Red Cross volunteer

Life changed for everyone in Beira, Mozambique, after Cyclone Idai tore through the city. The resulting floods and destruction is worse than anyone can remember.

Latest reports say that the cyclone affected 1.85 million people – the number living in Birmingham and Liverpool combined.

Thousands of people lost their homes and Red Cross volunteers were no exception.

But despite their personal tragedies, volunteers started to help immediately.

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For Mother’s Day, a mum-of-four opens up about how she overcame loneliness

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Sarah, a mother who was helped by the British Red Cross loneliness service and Home-Start, sits and looks into the distance

Sarah, © Percy Dean/British Red Cross

Sarah was 24 when she had her first child. Now, she is 32 and a mother to four.

Looking back, Sarah says she realises she had been feeling lonely since the birth of her first baby. Things came to a head two years ago when she moved to a new area and didn’t know anybody.

Research by the British Red Cross and Co-op has shown that many young parents find themselves in the same position as Sarah. Despite its joys, becoming a parent is one of the big life transitions that can lead to loneliness.

“How do you make new friends when you don’t know anyone?”

“It was very scary to move somewhere where I didn’t know anybody, I’ve never been alone like that before,” Sarah said.

“At first it was very difficult. I didn’t have anyone to talk to or anyone who could come to visit me. I was just spending most of my time at home, I didn’t have anyone to see or anywhere to go.

“It sounds weird but I didn’t know how to socialise, how do you make friends when you don’t know anyone in this city? I didn’t even have any way of meeting people.”

Luckily, joining a support group for young mums run by family support charity Home-Start helped Sarah make new connections.

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Crisis in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe: Red Cross providing urgent aid after Cyclone Idai

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In Beira, Mozambique, people carry suitcases and bags on their head while walking through flood waters caused by Cyclone Idai

© IFRC

This blog was updated on 26 March 2019.

No food, no power, no clean water and no way in or out.

This is life in Beira, Mozambique, a few days after Cyclone Idai tore through this city of half a million people.

So far, we know that 417 people have died in Mozambique and this is expected to rise significantly. Over 1,000 have been injured. In the three countries, the death toll is expected to go up.

Latest figures say that 18,000 people have had to flee their homes. Over 6,000 houses and 18 hospitals have been destroyed. Overall, a staggering 1,850,000 people have been affected in Mozambique alone.

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International Women’s Day: an ‘ordinary’ woman speaks up for refugees

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Shamila Dhana wears a British Red Cross jacket with the refugee women's group sitting at a table in the background

Shamila Dhana, an ‘ordinary’ woman doing extraordinary things

“I believe in … making ordinary people extraordinary.”

Every day, Shamila Dhana does this as a volunteer at a women’s group for refugees and asylum seekers run by the British Red Cross and our partners Stop Domestic Abuse.

Together, they tackle some of the most difficult issues these vulnerable women face.

Hate crime, honour, domestic and gender-based violence, social isolation, mental health and education are all on the agenda.

“To me, ordinary women are unsung heroes,” Shamila said.

“They are the woman that must get up and take the kids to school despite her period pains.

“The woman struggling to put food on the table because she is unable to work.

“The woman who is trying to navigate a complicated asylum process when she speaks little English. These women inspire me every day”.

As someone who considers herself to be an ‘ordinary woman’, Shamila felt shocked and honoured when she won the Pamodzi Creative ‘Inspirational Women’ award.

Many people had nominated the 36-year-old for Portsmouth’s first Inspirational Women Award to mark International Women’s Day 2019. 

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Letting the breaks off: why wheelchairs matter

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A British Red Cross volunteer kneels and speaks to a woman sitting in wheelchair that she borrowed from the Red Cross

Imagine you have just had surgery on your hip after a bad fall.

You’ve been in hospital recovering and you’ve been told you mustn’t put any weight on your leg. You are ready to go home and you can’t wait to get back, make your own dinner, see your friends, go to the shops.

With your crutches in hand and longing for home, you’re on your way. But it’s much harder than you expect and you realise crutches aren’t a suitable aid for you.

You try to explain this, but are simply told that is all that’s on offer. Gradually you realise you are going to struggle.

Many people just accept that they are stuck at home. They may be unable to get out or go to work, and have to depend on others. Some face days or months of isolation, loneliness and even depression.

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From Kent to Zimbabwe: JB Gill on helping farmers deal with climate change

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JB Gill sits on the ground in Zimbabwe surrounded by children

JB Gill with children from Mwenezi, Zimbabwe ©BritishRedCross/Jordi Matas

Former JLS band member turned farmer and TV presenter JB Gill writes about his visit to Zimbabwe with the British Red Cross.

Last month, I was gripping the wooden handles of a traditional farm plough in a dry, dusty field, struggling to control the restless cattle pulling it along.

But this was not an item for Down on the Farm, the CBeebies show which I present to teach children about the skills and work that go into farming.

I was in Zimbabwe to see first-hand how extreme weather, drought and climate change have made life hard for farmers there.

But I also saw how a Red Cross project, with support from players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, is empowering people to change their lives.

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Reuse, recycle and volunteer: three resolutions that will help you, the Red Cross and the planet

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Three British Red Cross volunteers (a man and two women) make a toast with their teacups in a Red Cross charity shop stock room

Volunteers at a British Red Cross charity shop © Anna Gordon/British Red Cross

How are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions?

Many of us have already given up on the resolutions we made only a month ago.

Maybe you are not going to run that marathon after all. Or even walk the dog for five more minutes each morning. Not today, anyway.

It’s easy for good intentions to get lost in everyday life.

But here are three ethical resolutions you can make at any time. And they will help you, the earth, and people who need British Red Cross support.

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Homeless people in Nottingham helped by the sit-up service

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Ruth Salter, a volunteer in the sit-up service for homeless people in Nottingham, holds a rucksack

Ruth Salter, sit-up service volunteer, © British Red Cross

As snow and cold weather blow in across the UK, everyone’s feeling the bite. But people sleeping rough have to face the cold in a way most of us can’t even imagine.

The British Red Cross helps in Nottingham by running a ‘sit-up service’ in partnership with Nottingham City Council, the community protection team and Framework Housing Association.

Sit-up gives homeless men and women a safe and warm place to go when temperatures are forecast to fall below zero.

I’ve been volunteering for the sit-up service since it started last year.

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