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Aid workers at Parliament House

Two Red Cross aid workers share their stories at a special Parliament House event

Monday June 22, 2015

Australian Red Cross aid workers travel to crisis hotspots across the globe

A packed audience of 150 supporters and parliamentary friends of Australian Red Cross were entertained with moving presentations from two veteran aid workers last week at a special event held at federal Parliament House.

Aid workers Bob Handby and Anne Carey shared their vivid accounts of working on the frontlines of delivering humanitarian aid in some of the world's biggest crisis hotspots, helping some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people on the planet.  

Australian Red Cross CEO Robert Tickner introduced Bob Handby as a veteran aid worker who has worked as a water and sanitation expert in conjunction with many other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies across the world since 1984. 

Bob began by showing this photo (above) and described how he interviewed this young girl to conduct a water assessment. 

He first asked "Is this good water or bad water?" to which the girl replied "I get worms in my belly".  He then asked her why she drinks it and she replied there was no other water to drink. 

"I also asked the young girl why she placed a branch on top of her dish?" said Bob.  "She said it was to stop the water from slopping out as her mother would make her go back to get more water if she lost too much".  Bob explained that in many poor countries the burden of carrying water falls to women and children.

Bob also spoke about being a founding member of the Australian Red Cross Disaster Response Team formed in 2007 to be deployed in our region, and shared stories of building sustainable water supplies in places such as Fiji, Solomon Islands, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Anne Carey is a nurse and Red Cross aid worker who has completed two assignments in Sierra Leone working at the Red Cross Ebola Treatment Centre in Kenema.

Anne shared a deeply moving account of caring for people dying from Ebola, the rigours of the infection control regime and wearing protective clothing in hot conditions, and the positive impact of their work.

"Most importantly, our presence told the locals to have courage," said Anne.

Download the audio of both aid worker presentations: