By Jenny Chang, Communications VolunteerSadiq Saffarini, 30, lives in Washington, D.C., and works as a research assistant. He joined the American Red Cross as a Disaster Action Team member in the summer of 2019.
|Sadiq helping during floods |
in New Orleans in May 2021
(Calcasieu and East Baton Rouge)
Over the past year, Sadiq has been busy responding to several national disaster relief operations, including hurricanes in Louisiana, wildfires in California, floods in Kentucky, and tornadoes in Delaware. Each mission has lasted anywhere from three to 13 weeks, but that did not stop him from answering the call to be there for people in need during a national crisis.
Trained to handle and manage Damage Assessment, Sheltering, Distribution of Emergency Supply, Shelter Residence Transition, Feeding, and First Aid, Sadiq has shown true heroism and compassion for others that is inspiring to many.
The Red Cross spent some time speaking with Sadiq to find out exactly what drives him to be such an altruistic humanitarian.
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How did you first come across the Red Cross?
Since I was a kid, I have always been inspired by the mission of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. These organizations have always provided humanitarian protection and assistance for victims of war. It also represented hope, care, and relief – a feeling of reassurance following stressful times. Growing up as a Palestinian, I have personally witnessed war and human suffering from displacement, dispossession, and restriction on movement. However, with all these glooming calamities, what preserved hope in me at the time was the compassion and the selflessness of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent. They were my superheroes growing up.
"I have always been inspired by the principles of the Red Cross – Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence, Voluntary Service, Unity, and Universality.
Those principles have always and continue to inspire me today."
When did your work with the Red Cross begin?
I find the Red Cross a gateway to humanitarianism and selflessness and the seven principles are an important aspect of my life. My aim has always been to serve disadvantaged groups and try to make a change for good in society. I am honored to be part of this humanitarian organization, founded to provide humanitarian aid and relief to those suffering crises. To me, the work of the Red Cross is beyond heroic.
Tell us about a memorable mission you had with the Red Cross?
My first official major operation actually holds a very special memory for me. In 2013, I was sent to Yucatan, Mexico for Hurricane Barbara as part of the British Red Cross. On that mission, I was able to meet various Red Crossers from different countries, America, and Canada. My deployment lasted five weeks and at that time, we helped to assist children in an orphanage. We also helped build public libraries, sheltered and fed people, and even taught English in schools – something I did when I was younger for the children in refugee camps. Meeting all these international Red Crossers for my first mission was just one incredible experience.
Can you tell us about one of your missions over the past year with the American Red Cross?
One of my most recent deployments was in Kentucky. I was on the disaster relief operation for five weeks. I was called to help assist thousands of evacuees, who lost everything to the spring floods. It is worth mentioning for some areas, this was the most significant flooding in the last 50 to 60 years or more.
|Sadiq and a fellow Red Crosser doing damage |
assessment in Breathitt County, Kentucky (March 2021)
On the ground, I was part of the Information and Planning and Damage Assessment team, which means I was tasked with setting up and managing various recovery service centers across the eastern parts of the state. However, what gave me hope and joy through all the destruction was how the locals still remained positive and warm despite what they went through. The humility and the fortitude of the people was incredibly inspiring.
What are your personal challenges as a Red Cross Volunteer during these disaster relief operations?
My biggest challenge is seeing people suffering and hearing their stories, which often breaks my heart. While we see terrible things on television or read about them in the newspaper, it is hard to see them first hand. However, these feelings are also what motivates me to help.
"I know that what we, as Red Cross volunteers, bring to these people is comfort and sincere care during what could possibly be one of the hardest times of their lives. "
Working on disasters reminds me of the importance of gratitude and humility. I am also empowered by the camaraderie amongst the Red Crossers I work with.
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