“When I needed a neighbour were you there, were you there?
When I needed a neighbour were you there?”
This used to be one of my favourite hymns at school. I loved the idea of global benevolence; the thought that someone could give without judgement and without expecting to receive. I liked to think that was a basic tenet of society and that compassion for one’s fellow man was what raised us above beasts (that and an appreciation of art in all its forms).
There were many occasions where we helped make up care-parcels; sometimes we sent hand-knitted socks and scarves to people in cold countries far away; sometimes we sent tins of baked beans and canned fish to the old folk’s home down the road. We laid a wreath at the cenotaph in memory of all the dead soldiers who fought for our freedom and we helped collect money to send to disaster-ravaged communities. The aim of the red cross is to help people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are.
The Red Cross is still one of the charities to which I give money through a monthly donation. I admire their egalitarian principles and their universal humanity. I am not alone – the movement has 97 million volunteers worldwide. As an example of what they do, you can’t go past the ‘Boxing Day Tsunami’ in which aprroximately 230,000 people lost their lives across 14 countries.
Whether they are providing transport to make sure elderly patients keep their hospital appointments on the Kapiti Coast, providing facilities to collect essential blood donations, or providing shelter to those devastated by earthquake in Haiti, Red Cross volunteers are donating their time and skills to help those less fortunate than themselves. I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a credo worth following.
"Wherever you travel I'll be there, I'll be there,
Wherever you travel I'll be there.
And the creed and the colour and the name won't matter, I'll be there."