Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Red Cross Volunteer Reflects on Her 9/11 Day of Service

By Megan Bruno
September 11 has become a day for Americans to pause, reflect and remember a painful tragedy that changed our history forever. I think it can also be a time to turn the hurt of losing lives into the hope of saving lives.

Imagine living in a world where nothing is convenient and simple necessities like food and clothing are difficult to obtain. Your daily worry would be how to fulfill your most basic needs. Now, imagine you are a doctor or nurse trying to fulfill those needs for several people: getting them proper medicine and supplies, food, or even a warm blanket. That is often the case in many countries in Africa.

On this year’s 9/11 anniversary, six Red Cross volunteers from the Metro New York North chapter, led by our hard-working coordinators, Carissa Duro and Andrew Sindell, went to the Afya Foundation warehouse in Yonkers, N.Y. The Afya Foundation obtains and ships vital supplies necessary to support medical and surgical initiatives worldwide, with a primary focus on Africa. Supplies are donated and gathered from hospitals, surgical center and corporations.

Upon arriving at Afya (which means “good health” in Swahili), initially one would think that this place is just like every other warehouse in an industrial section of Yonkers. In reality, the people inside were working furiously to package and send all different types of collected supplies. The majority were indeed medical supplies; however, we also came across some that addressed basic needs, such as clean drinking water and soap, which we in America often take for granted. For Afya, no donation is too bulky or too delicate; nothing is turned away or goes to waste.

What I enjoyed most about this experience was that it was truly a team effort. On the same day, Afya invited other volunteer organizations to help out along with the Red Cross. We all seemed to work together as a family, each of us having our own task but essentially working toward the same goal. Turisha Herbert, Afya’s volunteer coordinator, was proud of the mission and accomplishments of the organization, as she should be; its tremendous efforts do not go unnoticed. Through several resources, programs and donation opportunities, Afya proves that a little goes a long way.

Megan Bruno has been a volunteer with the Red Cross Metro New York North chapter for about 18 months, working with the Service to the Armed Forces and Blood Services programs.

Photos by Red Cross volunteer photographer Matthew LaMonica. 

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