Compiled by Takemore Mazuruse

World Red Cross Red Crescent message from the ZRCS Secretary General Mrs Emma Kundishora

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is a dynamic voluntary organisation which continues to reinvent itself in tune with the diverse humanitarian challenges that stalk the vulnerable groups in our communities. The National Society joined the rest of the Movement family in commemorating World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day this past month of May. As a tried and tested humanitarian organisation, we take this opportunity to salute the selfless sacrifices that are being made by Red Cross Volunteers the world over in alleviating human suffering. Our volunteer efforts have been clearly evident during disaster and conflict times. The vulnerable and disadvantaged groups have continually benefited from the contributions of these magnanimous men and women.


In celebrating the great work being done by the Red Cross Movement, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society held a Charity Dinner Dance on the 6th of May at Meikles Hotel. The Dinner Dance was designed with a view to fundraise for the various programmes that we are carrying around Zimbabwe. The National Society is currently running an integrated programme which provides a holistic approach in answering to the needs of the vulnerable groups and promoting their human dignity. Our very existence is critical for the welfare of the disadvantaged groups who continue to bear the brunt of humanitarian challenges the world over. However, our continued existence and effectiveness calls for the concerted efforts and support of all Zimbabweans. The government, business community, individuals and other humanitarian groupings must support our efforts in addressing human suffering. Selfless volunteerism is what we are calling for.

We would therefore want to heartily salute all those who supported the Charity Dinner Dance by availing moral and material support. The government ministries, private companies, individuals, Red Cross Volunteers and Staff, our movement partners from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the organising committee, the performing artistes, Director of Ceremonies, the Guest of Honour Dr Solomon Guramatunhu, the media and all the families and individuals who made it there.

The Red Cross Movement is because volunteers are. We take this opportunity to call on the entire nation to join us in making a difference in the lives of the disadvantaged groups. Your contribution will go a long way in alleviating human suffering and will certainly be greatly appreciated. Our doors remain open to those who feel compelled to play a part in the work that we do. As an impartial organisation, we present those of a generous disposition a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the vulnerable regardless of their race, creed or political affiliation.  World Red Cross Day Commemoration is a time of reinvigoration and rededication for all Red Cross Volunteers, new and old alike. We all have a part to play and we must bear in mind that the Red Cross Movement has got great relevance in our everyday lives as explained through the various subject areas in this supplement.

World Red Cross Day Commemorations – Invoking the spirit of Volunteerism

The Founder of the Red Cross Movement, Henry Dunant was born in Geneva on 8 May 1828 and came from a devout charitable Calvinist family. Henry Dunant died on 30 October 1910. The date of his birth, 8 May, is celebrated as World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. Now, more than 100 years later, his legacy lives on in tens of thousands of staff and volunteers who continue to help others around the world each day.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society joined the rest of the world in commemorating this day in the month of May, 2011. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Day also qualifies to be called Volunteers’ Day as Volunteers are very much the foundation of the Red Cross Movement. Henry Dunant suggested the formation of “relief societies for the purpose of caring for the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers”. Both the Geneva Conventions and the statutes of the Movement subsequently highlighted the importance of these volunteer relief societies (“the foundation of the Movement”), today’s National Societies. Volunteers are the driving force behind the great humanitarian work that is consistent with the Red Cross Movement the world over.

As the National Society commemorates this all important day on the world Red Cross calendar, all Zimbabweans are called upon to voluntarily support its programmes which have over the years helped make a difference in the lives of the elderly, the sick, the disabled, the disadvantaged communities and in disaster times. Unique about the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s programmes is their allegiance to the 7 Red Cross Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Universality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service and Unity. These have set the organisation apart as a purely humanitarian organisation that cuts across the political, social and economic divide.

Humanitarian motivation must, of course, not be unique to a certain section of the Zimbabwean or world population but must be common to all. The volunteers through the said humanitarian motivation express quite forcefully this “Power of Humanity” as embodied in the Red Cross and Red Crescent:

  • by the drive of their commitment , the time they give help , they illustrate the Red Cross Movement’s will to rely first on its own resources in order to take action;
  • through their free choice in serving and adhering to the Movement’s founding mission, they ensure independence of action in favour of the victims of conflict or disaster , and those who are more vulnerable in their different communities around the world;
  • Present in all countries of the world, coming from different cultures and responding to various changing needs, they demonstrate the universality of humanitarian concern.

Though many volunteers are familiar with the experience of war-related suffering, vulnerability and carry out activities to help victims of armed conflict and other humanitarian challenges, they are imbued with a spirit of peace. At Solferino, the battle of Solferino that gave birth to the Red Cross Movement we celebrate today, Henry Dunant, so to say the first volunteer in the Movement, also imbued with a spirit of peace, mobilised this “Power of Humanity” that Volunteers embody today.

Many Volunteers are at the fore in providing assistance to the growing numbers of disaster victims worldwide, in many cases despite their own and their families’ suffering as a result of such events. It is at such moments of catastrophe that the spirit of self-sacrifice shines brightest.  On the occasion of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day, the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society wishes to express recognition and admiration for the volunteers’ constant, generous commitment.  

Every citizen of Zimbabwe with a heart for humanity can be a Red Cross Volunteer. By becoming a volunteer you play a big role in making the National Society’s humanitarian work more effective. Red Cross Volunteers have selflessly volunteered their time and resources towards alleviating human suffering all over the world even in conflict times.

Movement History: The Battle of Solferino

The battle of Solferino was fought in Northern Italy on 24 June 1859. It was a decisive episode in the struggle for Italian unification and also a pivotal movement in the evolution of modern humanitarianism. It is at the origins of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the Geneva Conventions.

Allied Franco-Sardinian troops, led by Emperor Napoleon III, faced off against Austrian soldiers at around three in the morning on the 24th. By six o’clock, the battle was in full swing. Bright sunshine bore down on the 300,000soldiers, who shot, trampled, bayoneted and slit the throats of their enemies. After 15 hours of slaughter and bloodshed, around 6,000men were dead and more than 35,000were wounded or missing.

The Medical services of the French and Sardinian armies were overwhelmed. Transportation for the wounded was practically non-existent while, while food and water were scarce. In the church of Castiglione, the Chiessa Maggiore, a young Swiss man named Henry Dunant - was in the area for business and did his best to care for the wounded and dying, helped by local women volunteers. They treated the men equally, regardless of what side they had fought on, inspiring the women to coin the phrase “tutti fratelli” (all brothers).

Henry Dunant 1828 – 1910, the Founder of the Red Cross Movement

Considered by many as the father of modern humanitarianism, Henry Dunant was also arguably the first embedded war reporter and citizen journalist rolled into one. In 1862, he self-published a graphic account of the aftermath of the battle, called A Memory of Solferino. In 1901, Henry Dunant was awarded the first – ever Nobel Peace Prize for what was described as the “supreme humanitarian achievement of the 19th century”.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society in the Community – a call to Volunteerism

A Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Volunteer speaks to women about Community Based Health and First Aid (CBHFA) during one of National Society’s community outreach programmes

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is a volunteer driven organisation which is there to provide a ready answer to the needs of the most vulnerable groups. The Red Cross movement the world over is synonymous with impartial humanitarian interventions and as part of the movement family; the National Society has meaningfully contributed to the welfare of the vulnerable groups in Zimbabwe. Various communities around Zimbabwe have in one way or another benefited from the organisation’s humanitarian work.

The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is a nationwide organisation with structures in all the 10 provinces and districts around Zimbabwe. Our humanitarian efforts have stood the test of time. The National Society provides a platform for all citizens to contribute towards a better welfare for disadvantaged Zimbabweans from all walks of life.  With the technical and financial support of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Partner National Societies like the British Red Cross, Swedish Red Cross, Norwegian Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, Japanese Red Cross, German Red Cross, French Red Cross and Finnish Red Cross as well as other local organisations and individuals, we have made a big difference in our communities. Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is committed to provide timely appropriate and acceptable humanitarian services to Zimbabweans in Health and Social Services, Disaster Management, Organisational Development, Food Security and Livelihoods, Water and Sanitation, Health and Care as well as Nurse Aid and First Aid training.

While ZRCS values the positives that have been drawn from its programming over the years; there is a strong belief that there is a lot more that the nation can do for the benefit of humanity. The call for humanitarian intervention is more heightened now than ever before in all corners of the world, Zimbabwe included.  As a National Society, Zimbabwe Red Cross has always been there whenever needed and its various programmes that are spread across Zimbabwe have made a big difference in the lives of ordinary citizens. The organisation has made its mark through interventions during disasters times like the 2008 cholera outbreak, floods in some flood prone areas, drought periods and even during road traffic accidents where there will be a need for timeous interventions. Different communities have also continued to benefit from their ongoing programmes.

The organisation’s humanitarian interventions are usually preceded by baseline surveys to determine vulnerability levels in the programme areas. Being a Red Cross Volunteer and supporting the National Society’s work is therefore a big step towards lessening the burden of alleviating humanitarian challenges in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe Red Cross Society programmes are not only emergence inclined but also empower the vulnerable; women and children included to make a stand against poverty and all forms of lack that may expose them to the elements. Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), the elderly, women and the disabled have all benefited from such programmes. However, it must also be noted that there are times when natural and manmade disasters make every citizen vulnerable regardless of the social status. Again the National Society has provided a ready answer in such situations.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life are therefore challenged to partner the National Society in the great work that they are doing by availing their efforts, time and resources towards Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s programmes. There are many ways through which Zimbabweans can play a part in this cause. Government, companies, churches and individuals can all be the agents for a change of fortunes in the lives of the vulnerable. Such a stand will contribute towards eradication of human suffering and vulnerability in our communities. Zimbabweans must join hands for the good of humanity bearing in mind that there is never too small an effort to make a positive change.

Zimbabwe Red Cross Society also runs an effective Community Based HIV and AIDS Programmes covering Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART), Prevention, Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and Home Based Care

Organisational Development through Volunteerism

Organizational Development through voluntarism

“For the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society to become a brand we can cherish, and one with a ready answer to the humanitarian challenges of the day, a sound volunteer base is needed. However, many questions have been raised as to how one can become a volunteer, what difference does being a volunteer make in the work of the Red Cross movement and of what value addition is it to the person volunteering his time, efforts and resources towards this humanitarian work,” said the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society’s Human Resources, Administration and Organisational Development Manager Ms. Netsai Chizema

Volunteers as the drivers of the movement

For the Red Cross movement to be assured of continued existence and effective operations, organisational development as born out of volunteerism is critical.Volunteers make the back bone of the Red Cross the world over. The Zimbabwe Red Cross Society thus, thrives on mobilising the power of humanity in serving humanity in times of disasters, emergencies, and development work. In its relief and developmental operations, the Zimbabwe Red Cross depend on volunteers delivering its humanitarian service to vulnerable communities.

What is a Volunteer?

A Volunteer is an individual who voluntarily offers his or her services without expecting any financial

or material gains.  Their contributions enable the Society to deliver assistance to the most vulnerable groups effectively and efficiently.   

Becoming a Volunteer

You can join the Zimbabwe Red Cross by registering as a volunteer at the local branch of the National Society within your community or the nearest Red Cross Centre. Anybody can become a volunteer of Zimbabwe Red Cross as one abides by the seven fundamental principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement which are:

  •     Humanity

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement born of a desire to give assistance

without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its International

and National capacity to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found.

Its purpose is to protect life and health to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, co-operation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.

  •     Impartiality

It makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.

It endeavours to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.

  •     Neutrality

In order to continue to enjoy the confidence of all, the Movement may not take sides in

hostilities or engage at any time in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological


  •     Independence

The Movement is independent. The National Societies, while auxiliaries in the humanitarian

services of their governments and subject to the laws of their respective countries, must

always maintain their autonomy so that they may be able at all times to act in accordance

with the principles of the Movement.

  •     Voluntary Service

        It is a voluntary relief movement not prompted in any manner by desire for gain.

  •     Unity

There can only be one Red Cross or one Red Crescent Society in any one country. It must be

open to all. It must carry on its humanitarian work throughout its territory.

  •     Universality

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, in which all Societies have equal

status and share equal responsibilities and duties in helping each other, is world-wide.

Core Group of professionals

Professionals are encouraged to be volunteers and members so that the community can benefit from their expertise.

You can be a volunteer as well as a member

In addition to volunteers Zimbabwe Red Cross Society recruits its members throughout the country without discrimination. Membership like volunteerism is open to all. Unlike volunteers members pay subscription fee which currently stand at USD10 annually and USD 5 dollars for young females and males between the age of 8 and 30.

Rights of members

  •     Hold a Zimbabwe Red Cross Membership Card.
  •     Vote at the relevant structure.
  •     Stand for election to be voted into position at the relevant structure
  •     Receive updates about Red Cross activities within your area.
  •     Attend events and opportunities in local community.

You can be a member as well as a volunteer. Be a member and a volunteer of Zimbabwe Red Cross Society so that you serve the most vulnerable people in your community and the nation at large.

Dr Guramatunhu calls on Zimbabweans to support ZRCS’s Humanitarian work

Celebrated philanthropist, Dr Solomon Guramatunhu has openly challenged Zimbabweans to support the work of the Red Cross in Zimbabwe. Speaking at a Charity Dinner Dance held in commemoration of World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day and the great humanitarian legacy that the Red Cross Movement embodies; Dr Guramatunhu who was the guest of honour said all Zimbabweans must feel compelled to support the work of the humanitarian organisation. The Dinner Dance which came as a matter of humanitarian prudence for the organisation to cushion itself from the ever rising costs of humanitarian interventions was held on the 6th of May 2011 at Meikles hotel in Harare. “This event must serve as a wakeup call to all Zimbabweans to play a part in alleviating the suffering of the vulnerable groups. We all have a role to play in addressing the everyday challenges of the vulnerable groups. Every one of us, government included must seriously consider how they can make that difference by supporting the work of the National Society“, Dr Guramatunhu said.  

The celebrated Eye Surgeon Specialist urged Zimbabweans to adopt and practice humanitarian diplomacy whilst promoting human dignity and value.
Dr Guramatunhu is engaged in charity and humanitarian work through the Guramatunhu Family Trust. His Family Trust has seen scores of orphans and vulnerable children attain academic and professional qualifications in various disciplines across the country and abroad. The Trust pays for these children’s tuition fees accommodation, school uniforms and other welfare needs.
Some of the students are studying at leading institutions including Midlands State University, Solusi University, University of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology, Bindura University of Science Education and Harvard University in the USA.

For his distinct contribution and in recognition of his humanitarian work, the ZRCS honoured Dr Guramatunhu by awarding him a Merit Award as a Friend of the ZRCS because of his tireless and sterling work.  In accepting his award, he said, “We have a great challenge before us. Zimbabwe must adopt and practice humanitarian diplomacy. Who are we? We have a lot of rich people in this country and they are not doing enough to promote human dignity and value. They must go an extra mile and invest in our society and humanity," concurred by ZRCS Vice President Mr. Mandhlankulu Moyo who challenged the Zimbabwean society,” Are we always going to receive from international partners yet we have great people with lots of money, some with carports filled with over 15 cars. One can be tempted to think they are car manufacturers. We all die and leave these material things. When do we start building legacies and even build schools, libraries and hospitals? Humanitarian achievements are world mark achievements. Let’s synergize our energy to the betterment of humanity.”

ZRCS President Mr Lemon Sigauke Shumba also called on all Zimbabweans to joins hands in bringing relief to the disadvantaged. “In as much as we appreciate the support of our traditional partners, we also subscribe to the fact that nobody understands the Zimbabwean challenges better than the Zimbabweans themselves. We all know of the orphans who have to drop out of school because of lack and the vulnerable communities who among other daily challenges spend the day and go to bed on empty stomachs. We must feel challenged to make a positive change in the lives of the need and such fundraising programmes like the 06 May 2011 Charity Dinner Dance and the Car Raffle to be held on the 10th of September 2011 must be supported by all Zimbabweans with goodwill,” he said.


Speaking at the same occasssion Dr Asha the Deputy Head of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRCS)said, " Help us and help the most vulnerable , they are worthy it not that they deserve it. It is the value of society. Zimbabwe Red Cross Society can achieve whatever they want to but only with the support of partners. The corporate sector can't be underestimated and the individual support as well. This can only happen when resources are available”.

Mrs. Emma Kundishora the ZRCS Secretary General stated there were many areas of humanitarian concerns Zimbabweans can begin to take initiative in for example Food Security and Livelihoods, Water and Sanitation, Disaster Management, Health and Care, Orphans and Vulnerable Children and Organisational Development. Through these programmes, she hinted that Zimbabweans would shape the nation. Humanitarian diplomacy in the Red Cross movement was born in operation bringing relief 150 years ago to the battlefield of Solferino in Northern Italy. The work done at the battlefield led by Henry Dunant also gave birth to the humanitarian diplomacy which produced the International Federation over 90 years ago and the Geneva Conventions  over 60 years go
The reaffirmation of the place of the Red Cross in development operations took account of the vitality of the contribution of volunteers . Henry Dunant recognised their strength over 150 years ago , when he led the recruitment of the people of a community to help those in distress next door.
The local media was also challenged to take onus to give voices to those often vulnerable and help improve human dignity and value whilst allowing intervention. I t was hinted that the media should continue to provide timely appropriate and acceptable humanitarian service to the nation as they can make a difference through their reporting.


Sowing the seed of Volunteerism through Humanitarian intervention

Those who had the opportunity to attend the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Charity Dinner Dance were touched by the testimony given by one of the National Society’s programme beneficiaries. One Shingirai Mugabiri aged 16 and now in doing lower sixth at Chemukute High School gave a touching account of how the organisation made a difference in her life.

“My parents are both deceased and the Red Cross started looking after me since I was in grade three. They have been paying my school fees and I also benefited from their food security and livelihoods programme. I passed my Ordinary Levels with flying colours and I am now pursuing my Advanced Levels at Chemukute High School. The organisation gave me a lifeline and I can safely my life is set,” she said. Many of the participants were left in tears after her testimony.

The story of Shingirai is one of the many humanitarian activities that depict how the work of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society is impacting humanity in Zimbabwe. Shingirai called on all Zimbabweans to take the challenge and bring hope to the disadvantaged groups. She also vowed to volunteer her time and resources for the good f humanity after having completed her studies. The future is set for her and she is certainly inspired to reciprocate the good that was done to her.