Happy Birthday to Henri Dunant! Today marks what would have been the 184th birthday of the founder of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the man who conceived of what would become the Geneva Conventions, and the recipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize. The American Red Cross, along with other national societies, continues to spread the same humanitarian ideals touted by Dunant over 150 years ago, in part through dissemination of international humanitarian law (IHL). I have been proud to be an IHL instructor for the American Red Cross for more than 4 years now, and now Chair the International Services Committee at my local Southeast Louisiana Chapter in New Orleans.

Today, the Presidents of ICRC and IFRC issued a joint statement reminding us how vital young people are to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, saying “we must work to better recognize, invest in and empower the next generation of young leaders who will surely carry our Movement and our lifesaving mandate forward. Today, we recognize “Youth on the move,” and the profound impact that young people, who represent nearly half of our volunteers world-wide, are having in their communities and on the global stage through the Red Cross and Red Crescent.”

In addition, the ICRC Regional Delegation for the US and Canada reminds us that this month’s operational focus is on violence and displacement of civilians in Colombia, which not only continues but grew in volume in 2011. I have studied the problem of IDPs in Colombia as a result of the continuing violence, which has lasted 50+ years – the “desterrados” are the forgotten displaced, an IDP crisis happening in the Americas. When people think of displacement, they think of IDPs and refugees fleeing from conflict across Africa, but Colombia is often forgotten. Take a look at the ongoing efforts of ICRC and this violence than has been raging for more than half a century, right here in our own hemisphere.

The Red Cross is an organization that has always been close to my heart – I’ve been a Red Crosser for 11+ years, and continue to work hard to support the organization and live up to it’s reputation. My involvement with the American Red Cross has spanned 3 chapters and include a laundry list of functions, including: youth manager, disaster instructor trainer, shelter manager, CPR/First Aid instructor, IHL instructor, DAT member, logistics officer, babysitting instructor, grant writer, fundraiser, event planner, leadership development center director, IS committee chair, caseworker, and many more! I’m proud to share my birthday with World Red Cross Red Crescent Day and with Henri Dunant – I take it as evidence that I belong with the organization and will continue to call it my home.