Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Volunteer Experience with the Red Cross

Abu Sufiyan interviews a woman living in a portion of Bangladesh often affected by floods and river erosion. The interview was part of a case study he completed while working for Concern Worldwide in 2009. The case study assessed the affect of interventions by non-profits and volunteers following a disaster and what additional assistance was required.
 The following was written by Red Cross volunteer Abu Sufiyan.

I began my volunteer service with American Red Cross in June of 2014. I recently graduated from University of Louisville with a specialization in Disaster Management. I joined the Red Cross volunteer service to use my newly open time to contribute to the lives of disaster affected people. I am excited to use my knowledge and experience in a new and practical environment.

First, I met with the communication team of the Louisville Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. I was introduced to the blog and social media of the chapter and discussed the different volunteer opportunities with the American Red Cross. I expressed my interest in interviewing people and writing stories about the feelings, needs, and experiences of the community members in the aftermath of a disaster.

I have been volunteering ever since I was in college and one of the activities I have always enjoyed was helping others and service to the community. When I first learned about volunteer opportunities in American Red Cross, I was very much interested as the organization is bringing real change in the lives of disaster affected people every day. I believe that everyone should dedicate some time for service to humanity. As Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

I am originally from Bangladesh, a country that is not only poor but also affected by cyclones, floods, and other coastal hazards almost every year. After viewing the sufferings of people while I was working for an international humanitarian organization, I decided to take a career path that will alleviate the sufferings of people in a disaster situation. I have completed my doctoral dissertation on the differential of disasters on the poor in the Gulf Coast region. From my experience from two countries, I understand that the sufferings of the people are not much different in the aftermath of a disaster, and people need utmost help to return to the normal lifestyle.

Later I was introduced to the online learning opportunities at the Saba website of the Red Cross. I have already completed eight courses on disaster management. It is quite interesting that new volunteers can take courses in the comfort of their home. I feel that the courses on disaster services, diversity, sensitivity, and awareness, disaster assessment, disaster planning and public affairs were really informative and provide practical knowledge about disaster services. I am willing to continue my volunteer services with the American Red Cross.

We are excited to welcome Abu to the Red Cross team! For more information on becoming a Red Cross volunteer at the Louisville Area Chapter, visit