Red Cross restores family bonds in Puerto Rico

By IFRC

Hurricane Maria left millions of people without electricity, resulting in limited connectivity throughout Puerto Rico. Consequently, large swathes of people had no means of letting their family members know that they were alright or if they needed help.

As part of disaster response, the American Red Cross has been working to reunite families thanks to a portable satellite dish known as VSAT. This satellite program offers free WiFi so users can connect with their families by accessing social media. The satellite is part of the family reunification program known as Safe & Well which finds creative ways to reunite families after a disaster.

After Hurricane Maria hit, Fátima Haram, 66, and her husband Abdelrahman Salem, 72, were left without any means to communicate with the outside world. Both of Arabic nationality, they have been living in Puerto Rico for five years, and this was the first time they had lost communication with their loved ones.

Tears of joy spilled over when Fátima managed to communicate with her daughter, who lives in Europe. She connected to her using the free internet signal set up in La Revolución Plaza, Lares by the Safe & Well program of the American Red Cross.

Between hugs and tears, Fátima and Abdelrahman thanked the Red Cross for helping them establish long-distance communication and for the free internet service.

This Week in Restoring Family Links: 1/4/17- 1/5/17

This Week in Restoring Family Links: 1/4/17- 1/5/17

Haiti: The American Red Cross is working to build resilience in Haiti through the use of Community Engagement and Accountability  or CEA. The community engagement aspect means providing communities with information, involving them with programs in which they are able to participate and have their wants and needs listened to. The accountability aspect of the program ensures that the Red Cross will be held accountable and follow through with its commitment.

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This week in Restoring Family Links: 07/18/2016-07/22/2016

This week in Restoring Family Links: 07/18/2016-07/22/2016

Turkey: Friday night, July 15, Turkey experienced an attempted military coup, resulting in 161 deaths and at least 1,440 people injured. After a night of fighting between the insurgent military faction and the government, President Recept Tayyip Erdogan declared that the coup was over and that the government was still in charge.   

Aside this recent coup, Turkey has gone through three military takeovers in 1960, 1971, and 1980 respectively and the people then went through gross human rights violations. According to Elif Shafak, a Turkish novelist and essayist, because of this history, Turkish people are willing to defend the civilian rule against any military coups because they do not want another dictatorship even if they are not fond of the ruling government.

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This Week in Restoring Family Links: 06/13/2016 - 06/17/2016

This Week in Restoring Family Links: 06/13/2016 - 06/17/2016

Orlando Shooting: Early morning, June 13, a gunman opened fire in Pulse – a popular gay nightclub in downtown Orlando, killing 49 individuals and injuring 53. This shooting is considered the worse mass shooting in U.S. history. More than 30 injured individuals are still hospitalized as of Tuesday, June 14 – six of them in critical conditions. All the victims were identified.

The American Red Cross released a media statement on the morning after the mass shooting, offering condolences to families of the victims and people in Orlando. 

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World Water Day: Keeping Communities Safe from Drought and Zika

World Water Day: Keeping Communities Safe from Drought and Zika

Red Cross volunteers in the Americas are working hard to ensure that household water tanks – which are used to help communities cope with droughts related to El Niño – do not become breeding grounds for the mosquito that spreads the Zika virus.

Globally, more than 60 million people have been affected by droughts related to El Niño, which have affected agricultural production and damaged food security. Some countries in the Dry Corridor of Central America have been forced to declare a state of national emergency, with responses focused on water provision and the rehabilitation of supply systems.

However, the solution to one crisis – the drought – could worsen the ongoing Zika public health emergency, so the Red Cross is taking action in communities across the Americas to raise awareness of good practices in water, sanitation, and disease prevention.

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