Wednesday, December 21, 2005

CICR, Filial La Paz

Wasn’t satisfied with the previous post about the Red Cross, so I’m giving it a second shot…

It all started when I looked up the local Red Cross office online and called to find out about First Aid courses. Few days later, I decided to walk to the Red Cross and see whether I could already sign up for the course, and once there although I was told registration for First Aid wasn’t open until the last week of December, I asked about volunteering and was told that the very next day an “introductory presentation” was taking place with the head of volunteering. I went, and the rest is history. Ok, maybe not history, but yeah. I love that place. There are some strict rules such as no smoking within the walls of the FLP (Filial La Paz) and no public displays of affection… and it is impressive that the latter is respected, because a lot of dating goes on within the ranks! All the people I have met so far beyond just hello-goodbye are inspiring. They take volunteering very seriously, nearly live at the FLP, and are very capable. And the cherry on the cake is that they are a lot of fun, too.

Here, the Red Cross is usually in charge of providing First Aid at major events (concerts, marathons, races, fairs, etc), they are on call during all emergency situations (eg. Election Sunday), and they also run various other projects such as teaching rural communities about basic health, visiting retirement homes and homes for disabled children...

As I am not yet First Aid certified, I am limited in the amount of activities I can participate in and generally stick to backstage volunteer work. That said, there is always so much to do at the FLP that even so they keep me busy! It is hard to believe I have only been involved with the Red Cross here for a little over three weeks, but one thing is for sure – it is one of the best decisions I have made since I got here. In January, I will be doing the intensive month-long First Aid course, and if I pass the final exam (in the last batch, only seven out of 33 students passed – eek), the sky is the limit! For starters though, I will be upgraded to a “real” volunteer, woohoo! Fingers crossed. To borrow an expression I first heard used by my pseudo-sister Shahla… The Red Cross, Filial La Paz? It rocks my world.

Some more pictures below. From top to bottom: Alejandro, Wilson and Sofia at an HIV awareness fair at Las Cholas; Cesar and Janet selling tickets for the TRALALA comedy show at the 16 de Julio the proceeds of which were donated to the FLP; Me contributing to the cleaning of a blanket; and Me in one of the sexy Red Cross outfits (the last two were taken on Election Sunday).


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