TO EXIST OR NOT? – A Utopic Vision

By Vinicius Galera, Brazilian Red Cross

 

We all know we live in a world full of problems: from inequality, to lack of access to health, starvation, violence, gender and ethnical discrimination and immigration flows, just to mention a few. In Brazil, due to its continental size, these problems are present everywhere. Although there are more developed cities such as São Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre among others, even these cities face the same challenges on specific neighborhoods, usually in the outskirts of the cities.

In Brazil, we have a vast majority of population that face all problems mentioned and that are now living in a world that is developing rapidly and full of new technologies. According to national agencies such as IBGE, there are 50 million people, an equivalent of 25% of total population, living under poverty line, earning less than USD 5,5/day.

Homicides represent around 10% of total deaths in the country and are very concentrated in young men: 56% of total deaths of men from 15 to 19 years old were due to violence.

Thus, the main issue is how to give people in need access to standards of life in the future when they do not have the basics today? This is a fundamental goal of being a humanitarian organization: helping those in need. To achieve that, we will have to make a leapfrog and aim our intentions to a futuristic standard of living.

​We must act towards achieving a future of an equal, high and free standard of living for all, but achieving that will not be easy.

Before discussing the Future of Red Cross Red Crescent, we should take a step back and ask why does RCRC exist?

The RCRC exists to help those facing disaster, conflict and health and social problems. It has helped Brazilian national society to better understand the impacts of Yellow Fever in the whole country. Apart from understanding the whole context, RCRC also helps on providing training to local communities. One great example is the support to municipalities on the implementation of a methodology to provide safer access to public services. In this case, RCRC trained local workers on healthcare and education sectors on how to mitigate the risks imposed by the violence, self-protection and safety protocol for emergencies.

If the Red Cross Red Crescent works to reduce these problems, it is somehow working towards its own extinction, which is a very noble cause.

In my envisaged future, we would not experience these issues as all citizens would have the basic elements to live a healthy, peaceful life.

Conversely, Red Cross Red Crescent operates through the help of an active, well trained volunteering network. A volunteer is typically defined as “a person who acts out of his own will without a legal obligation”, however, it is difficult to frame that to help Red Cross Red Crescent would be a volunteer, because it says we have no obligation to help all citizens to have at least an acceptable standard of life. It must be our duty to do that. In that sense, my vision for Red Cross Red Crescent for the long term should be aiming to work towards its own inexistence. Everyone in the world would take responsibility to act in a local perspective for a common goal – for everyone to have a good standard of living.

Even though this scenario only exists on a utopic vision, RCRC needs to move in this direction. In order to so, it should focus on creating a sense of community from everyone’s life, by helping national society creating programs on foster local communities and the whole population on solving any issue they might encounter in their future.

In that sense, even if the institution is moving towards its inexistence, its essence will be present in everyone’s life and actions.

From the proposed utopic vision, we can now apply this and discuss Red Cross Red Crescent vision for 2030. If we could define a word to describe the RCRC vision for 2030 it would be TRANSLATE:

  • Translate the needs from local communities to a global perspective.
  • Translate public data into insights to help decision makers
  • Translate the communication across different actors / stakeholder that have a relevant role in national societies.
  • Translate civil society empowerment into daily actions

In other words, Red Cross and Red Crescent should be a network to translate different actions happening in the world and make them converge to give strength to all actions. It should act locally and globally to help different civil perspectives understand the local issues, collaborate into one single intention and access people in the local communities to go there and solve. This is close to what RCRC current role in the society. However, it should take a step further and take the stand on connecting all communities, national societies, NGOs, and other actors.

It should also have a continuous engagement of civil society to make everyone a volunteer in their day-to-day life. We should take charge of the cities, communities, problems as citizens and not to give responsibility to governments and Institutions. We are the Government. It is made by the citizens.

As an innovative organisation, it can also become easy to focus on the new, and emerging rather than celebrating the existing. Whilst technology will assist all of us in the future to better support ourselves (Uber allows better transportation, Airtasker allows for better completion of tasks etc.) it also reduced human interaction and impacts community and connection within staff, societies and individuals. In one conversation the discussion included the possibility of  automating a recruitment process. How can we be a human focused organisation which doesn’t include people in its recruitment of staff and volunteers? When the British Red Cross is focusing on ‘The Power of Kindness’ and the impact of loneliness it is imperative we do not become a creator of these issues. Strategy 2030 is futuristic in its vision, and the process in which it is implemented must be visionary too. By making the document a living, breathing, fluid piece of work, Red Cross, Red crescent can ensure the Movement continues to develop and exist in a new and innovative environment. To quote the International Federation of Red Cross, Red Crescent movement, ‘Our world isn’t linear; the changes aren’t linear – therefore our  solutions can’t be linear’.

Vinicius Galera

Brazilian Red Cross