International Organization for Migration publication, “Migrants in Disaster Risk Reduction Practices for Inclusion.” July 2017. Chapter: Migrants in Disaster Risk Reduction: American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois
By: Cat Rabenstine
The work of the American Red Cross of Chicago and Northern Illinois is rooted in the preparedness, response and recovery of communities affected by disasters as geographically vast as tornadoes and as isolated as home fires. The mission is carried out by a workforce of whom 90 per cent are volunteers who see a need in their community and who are driven to respond. The most common disaster response in this region is to home fires. By definition of who is doing the work (local community members) and how it’s done (on the ground), the work is localized.
Though it may be the largest humanitarian organization in the world, the Red Cross is grass-roots in its service delivery. The Red Cross is everywhere — in elementary school classrooms teaching children how to practice fire drills at home, going door-to-door to install smoke alarms in homes with volunteers speaking the language of the residents, and at the sites of home fires, assisting families with their immediate needs during a dark moment.
The Red Cross is committed to the resiliency of all communities in the face of disaster, in particular vulnerable migrants. Therefore, addressing the needs of migrants is woven into each aspect of the organization’s service delivery.