Reds to the Rescue



Photo by Babak Fakhamzadeh via Flickr

Bruce Gulland and Liz Waid look at the history and work of the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the Red Crystal.

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Transcript


Voice 1  

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Bruce Gulland.

Voice 2  

And I’m Liz Waid Two. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1  

The year was 1859. Jean-Henri Dunant was a rich businessman from Switzerland. He went to Paris to work on a business deal with Emperor Napoleon the third. But Napoleon was away in Italy, fighting a war. Dunant went to find him. He arrived just in time to see the battle of Solferino. It was a day that changed his life forever.

Voice 2

The battle was fierce and terrible. Almost 40,000 soldiers from both sides died or were wounded in the fighting. All over the battlefield men cried out for help. Dunant was deeply shocked by the terrible things he saw. Men lay dying on the battlefield in the fierce sun. There was no one to care for their wounds or even to bring them a drink of water.

Voice 1  

Dunant did what he could. He persuaded local people to help. But four days after the battle, he discovered 500 more wounded men - men he had not noticed before. He described what happened.

Voice 3  

‘I got together some women who helped me as best they could to help the injured men. These men needed food and drink. Their wounds needed treatment. Their bodies needed washing. All this happened in a hot, dirty atmosphere with terrible smells and cries of pain all around.’

Voice 2  

Dunant finally returned to his home in Geneva in Switzerland. But he could not forget what he had seen. He wrote about his experiences in a book called ‘A Memory of Solferino’. In the book, he suggested forming an organisation. This new organisation would care for soldiers wounded in battle.

Voice 1  

Dunant sent the book to all the political and military leaders in Europe. Many people supported his idea. In 1863, a small group met to discuss how they could make Dunant’s ideas come true. This was the beginning of what is now the Red Cross. The next year, 16 countries signed legal documents that established rules for military conflicts. This was the first Geneva Convention. Together, the Geneva Convention and the Red Cross provide for the care and protection of men and women wounded in battle. Doctors, care workers and hospitals are also protected from attack under the terms of the agreement.

Voice 2  

The Red Cross and the Geneva Convention have both grown and developed. Now, almost every country has its own Red Cross organisation. However, they are not all called by the name ‘Red Cross’. The image of the cross was chosen because the organisation began in Switzerland. The Swiss flag is a white cross on a red background. The Red Cross just reversed the colours and put them the other way round.

Voice 1  

Switzerland is a neutral country. It never takes sides in a military conflict. The main idea behind the Red Cross organisation is that all people are equal. They should all receive the same level of care and protection when they are in trouble.

Voice 2  

Dunant was a follower of Jesus. His ideas came from the Christian Bible. In that book, Jesus says something surprising. He says,

Voice 4  

‘You have heard people say, “Love your friends and hate your enemies. But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you.’

Voice 1  

Dunant treated soldiers from both sides of the conflict. The Red Cross and the Geneva Convention both have this same purpose. They try to make sure that everyone receives care and respect no matter what nation, race or religion they come from.

Voice 2  

But some people thought the image of a cross on the flag represented Christianity. They were not willing to work under that image. In 1906, several countries decided to use the image of a Red Crescent instead. In 2005, the Red Crystal was added. These other images now make it easier for every country in the world to join in. Each country is free to choose which image they will use.

Voice 1  

Each country organises its own version of the Red Cross, Crescent or Crystal. Their work has expanded into many new areas. Today, the organisations work in peacetime as well as in war. They organise health care programmes, special care for babies, or homes for children who have no parents. They try to prevent human suffering wherever it is found. The trouble may be floods, earthquakes, fierce winds or people who are starving. Both the local and international parts of this organisation come to the rescue.

Voice 2  

But what happened to Henri Dunant, the man who made it all possible? It is a sad story. When Dunant returned to Geneva, he spent all his time working on his new plans. He did not return to his work. The result was that his business failed and many of his friends lost a lot of money. His friends turned against him. Dunant had to leave the Red Cross and Geneva. He supported the work of the Red Cross for as long as he could. But he soon became very poor. He had no money, no food and no home. People forgot all about him for many years.

Voice 1  

In 1895, a newspaper reporter discovered Henri Dunant. He was a sick man, living in a free care home. The reporter wrote about him. Suddenly, Dunant was famous again. People sent money from all over the world to help him. He received many honours. One of them was the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901. And the Red Cross sent a message from Geneva.

Voice 5  

‘There is no man who more deserves this honour... Without you the Red Cross would probably have never been started’.

Voice 2  

But Dunant gave all the money he had received to other organisations that were helping the poor. He believed it was his duty to use the money to help people.

Voice 1  

Dunant died peacefully in his sleep in 1910. But the great organisation he started still honours him every year on his birthday, May 8. That day has become Red Cross, Crescent and Crystal Day.

Voice 2  

Which organization works in your country - the Red Cross or Red Crescent? Do you celebrate on May 8? Tell us about your experiences. You can leave a comment on our website. Or email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also comment on Facebook at Facebook.com/spotlightradio.

Voice 1  

The writer of this programme was Joy Smith. The producer was Bruce Gulland. The voices you heard were from the United Kingdom and the United States. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This programme is called, ‘Reds to the Rescue’.

Voice 2  

Visit our website to download our free listening app for Android or Apple devices. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

What is your experience with the Red Cross or Red Crescent? What do you think about these organizations?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
Honneur
said on October 18, 2018

I have no experiences with Red Cross or Red Crescent. In my country works the Red Cross, but I do not know about what it is doing… Perhaps I’m mistaken but I think Red Cross is inoperative in Brazil.