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International Volunteer Day 2015

To our volunteers we say thank you!

On 5 December each year we celebrate volunteers and the difference they make to our community.

Like Jestina Boyle in Sierra Leone and Antonella Cavallo in Australia, Red Cross volunteers all over the world are ready to support their local communities.

When Adelaide burned last summer Antonella was at the relief centre during the fires and went door to door in the aftermath to provide personal support to people who were threatened by the blaze.

Antonella said people had to flee their homes and were afraid and uncertain about the damage the fires had done.

"People were shocked, initially the conversation seemed fine but then they'd burst into tears. I learnt not to be fooled by first impressions."

She was able to support them by letting them talk through their emotions and concerns and provide practical information to help them get back on their feet.

"It was great that Red Cross was there listening to people. When I was working in the outreach team (going door-to-door once the fires were contained), people were so thankful, they didn't feel forgotten.

"At first, they felt isolated and by themselves, but we came to them and they saw people that cared about them."

In Kenema, Sierra Leone another Red Cross volunteer was able to provide a similar kind of support but for a different type of crisis.

Jestina Boyle volunteered at the Red Cross Ebola treatment centre in Kenema. She provided 'psychosocial assistance', a combination of counselling, encouragement, shared grief and education.

"Often when patients are admitted to the centre with a positive diagnosis, many want to give up. But I don't let them," said Jestina.

"I tell them to eat, to drink, to walk around, to do something. I give them hope."

Both Jestina and Antonella were able to provide comfort - through the simple act of listening, talking and showing they care - to people who were gripped by fear and uncertainty.

These volunteers exemplify the humanity and dedication of the millions of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers around the world who are ready to help their local communities. They are vital to our existence, we simply couldn't achieve what we do without them.

We are so thankful to all our volunteers - from those who assist their local communities to those who travel across the world to share acts of humanity with people who need it most. They make our world stronger, more connected and a better place to live.