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Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers – the humane “soldiers” with a mission to serve society

Photo: BGNES

Volunteering is our organization’s greatest strength, says Academician Hristo Georgiev, chairman of the Bulgarian Red Cross, BCR. Despite the quarantine, we are currently feeding 320,000 Bulgarians with funds from a European programme. We do this via 300 points where there are 9,000 volunteers constantly at work, taking food to the people in need, people who are sick or disabled. Take the latest example - the drivers at the Bulgaria-Turkey border – dozens of BRC volunteers gave out food to the people stuck there, Hristo Georgiev said for Focus news agency, and urged the public to become volunteers and take part in fund-raising campaigns, but also in blood drives. 

After a state of emergency was introduced in the country in mid-March the BRC volunteers added one more vital assignment to their mission – to deliver food and medicines to elderly people who live alone, to the disabled in different towns and villages across the country.

Requests for a visit are made by telephone, then the volunteers take down the list of items the people need and go to stores and pharmacies to buy them. The help they need comes in time and there are hundreds of Bulgarians relying on volunteers to survive at this difficult time.

In the town of Shumen there are around 60 volunteers always ready to go to the address of the people in need.

Tsvetan Gerassimov and Betina Belcheva are among the youngest Bulgarian Red Cross volunteers. Here is what they said in an interview for Radio Shumen:

I have been a volunteer with the Bulgarian Red Cross since the age of 14, i.e. for 4 years, Betina Belcheva says. I think that there comes a point when anyone will need help and there is someone else capable of giving that help. Anyone can do good if they want to, of course.

Volunteering is also means prioritization. Top of the list is education, and Betina and Tsvetan only go to BRC headquarters when they are done with their academic assignments.

We ought to help ourselves instead of sitting around waiting for the state to do something, says 18-year old Tsvetan Gerassimov from Shumen. That was my own motive to help, because times are difficult not just for us but for the state as well. People must stay home and we have to help them do that by restricting the times they have to go out. At times like these we have to unite more than ever. The Bulgarian Red Cross takes care to keep volunteers completely safe. Our safety comes first, before we even start going to people’s homes. Every day we are given masks, gloves, BRC distinctive markings.

Edited by Gergana Mancheva

Photos: BTA, BGNES and private library

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