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Flooding in South Asia, Heatwave guide + Blog takeover

17 July 2019

Flooding in South Asia

Photo: Bangladesh Red Crescent Society

Hi everyone,

I’m taking over the blog this week while Judy’s away on holiday. As I’m writing this, nearly 6 million people are under threat from rising flood waters following heavy monsoon rains, with more than one million displaced in one Indian state alone. Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers across Bangladesh, Nepal, India and other countries are racing to deliver emergency supplies to communities and prepare them as the situation in many areas is likely to worsen in the coming days. The number of people affected is likely to rise and there are growing concerns about potential food shortages and disease outbreaks.

Our Crisis Appeal is open to support our work in the camps in Bangladesh that are affected by this flooding. We’re supporting the distribution of shelter kits, hygiene kits and dignity kits to people who have lost their homes. We’re also supporting the small scale building of retaining walls and drainage.

The Heatwave Guide for Cities


The Heatwave Guide for Cities: a new publication from the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre has just been launched by IFRC President Francesco Rocca in New York.

In the guide, the Climate Centre’s experts show that deaths from heatwaves are not inevitable: the risks can be greatly reduced through the implementation of relatively simple and cost-effective actions.

“Heatwaves are silent killers because they take the lives of people who are already vulnerable,” said Rocca. “It’s vital that everyone knows how to prepare for them and limit their impact.”

Heatwaves are a deadly threat not just in Australia but also in many countries worldwide. Around 5 billion people live in regions where extreme heat can be predicted days or weeks in advance.

I encourage you to have a read at this guide, which offers a good range of case studies from preparing for an imminent heatwave to simple actions you can take during and after the action.

Celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices

The theme for NAIDOC this year is Voice, Treaty, Truth. In honouring the theme, we're amplifying the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, members and volunteers. Meet some of our deadly colleagues from whom we will learn more about their countries, cultures and communities, and how they walk in two worlds as unique humanitarians, bringing significant and lasting change in the communities they work alongside. 

In her blog last week, Judy called for a blog takeover. Here are a few of your submissions.

Blog takeover: Helping mums and bubs through crowdfunding

By Karl Uhrich, Engagement Manager (Acquisition)

During NAIDOC Week, Red Cross joined forces with an amazing group of Yolngu women in Galiwin’ku, NT to launch a campaign that blends community building with digital storytelling and social media-driven fundraising. 

Our first crowdfunding campaign, the Baby Hub Sewing Project is raising funds for a sewing centre where young mums can learn how to make clothes, build lasting friendships, and access the Baby Hub centre and its health check-ups, parenting classes and playgroup.

How did it start? 
Kerry Klimm is the Content Producer for the project: “Timing is everything! I spoke to Jenny Dally in Darwin, who told me that Nancy at the Baby Hub had just spoken to her about this idea of a sewing group for the mums. Nancy explained that there was only one store in Galiwin’ku that people could buy kids clothing. She was thinking of creative ways to bring the women together as well as creating something practical for them and their bubs.”

What’s it been like to work with Nancy and the local community on this project
Kerry Klimm: “It’s exciting to see that we can all work together to bring this project to life. In today’s digital age, it’s wonderful that Nancy is able to communicate her ideas through video on a mobile phone and from this create a beautiful campaign. At every step of the project, Nancy had input and final approval. So this really is a special project to work with a remote community, work in Yolngu and bring it to a national audience.” 

How you can help
Visit the Baby Hub Sewing Project to find out more, and to share with your friends and colleagues. Here are some of the feedback from Betty and Sandra who both contributed to the project.

“All the very best and what a great idea and project. In memory of my mother who loved her Singer sewing machine and everything she created in it,” - Sandra Barton

“What a great community initiative for young mums and babies! As an artist/ weaver and teacher I fully acknowledge the benefits of a sewing project for the wellbeing of women. Besides learning very useful skills there is the added benefit of building meaningful relationships, plus the health checks and the parenting classes, fantastic! I am very happy to contribute and wish Nancy all the best with setting up this project. I hope one day to be able to see with my own eyes how you are all happy sewing!” - Betty Wolf-gatignon

Blog takeover: NAIDOC Ball

by Sarah Kelly, Service Lead – Fraser Coast

As part of the NAIDOC week events, Red Cross supported five young Indigenous women to attend the NAIDOC Ball on 13 June. They were participants who have engaged across both our Youth Housing and Reintegration Services (YHaRS) and Youth Support Services (YSS) programs.

Some of the women have never been to a formal event before due to various reasons like costs or having no formal wear to attend an event. The NAIDOC Ball allowed them to step out in the community amongst family and Elders and be seen as future leaders. The formal event was aimed at supporting young people to connect to community and culture in a unique setting, and increasing confidence having never had the chance to attend a celebration of this kind before.  

Across both YHaRS and YSS we have in the past supported young people to attend formal events and graduations, in particular school graduations supporting young people to get formal wear. This is the first year we have supported young people attending the NAIDOC Ball.

Blog takeover: A welcome note to newly arrived refugee children

by Alison Cook, Senior Project Officer, Migration Support Programs

Early this month the WA In Search of Safety team was invited to speak with the students at South Metropolitan PEAC (Primary Extension Academic Challenge). Sessions were run with eight groups of students who were wowed by stories from Mohammad (Iraq/Palestine), Amnah (Saudi Arabia), Banafsheh (Iran), and Viola (South Sudan) who shared their personal experiences with them.

The students, who were focussing on how refugees fit into the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, then took the initiative to create Welcome Bags for newly arrived refugee children. They designed the bags themselves, added small gifts, and beautiful letters of welcome. What a heart-warming outcome from the In Search of Safety team’s hard work!

Every now and then...

“Every now and then you hear a presentation that makes you stop in your tracks and think more deeply in ways you never did before,” said Professor Dale Stephens of our very own Yvette Zegenhagen. 

“Your presentation was truly engaging and I bought the book 'New Power' by Hiemens and Timms and started reading it on the plane home to Adelaide. There is much to think about here and I can see broadly a possible connection between this thinking and the 'Roots of Restraint' study (as you noted in your presentation) - though I need to think more deeply. Every now and then you hear a presentation that makes you stop in your tracks and think more deeply in ways you never did before. You did that brilliantly last week - thanks for that.” 

Professor Dale Stephens is the Director of the Adelaide Research Unit on Military Law and Ethics at the University of Adelaide and the Chair of the Australian Red Cross IHL Advisory Committee in South Australia. He was talking of a presentation Yvette gave at the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law Conference in Canberra last week. Yvette’s presentation ‘Power, pop-culture & palm leaves: promoting the laws of war 70 years on’ spoke about ‘new and old power’ and how it requires us to think differently about the promotion and dissemination of IHL 70 years after the Geneva Conventions were adopted. She gave examples of how the Movement is taking diverse approaches in this area including at Australian Red Cross through innovations in volunteer engagement and the popular ‘IHL and Game of Thrones’ analysis completed earlier this year. 

We have asked Yvette to give her presentation again via Skype, so watch this space.