Jean Henry Dunant, the “Founder of Red Cross” was born on 8th May, 1828 in Geneva, Switzerland. His father was a rich and reputed business man and his mother was a gentle and pious lady. She was responsible in moulding his character. Even at a very young age Dunant, became a member of league of the nations in Geneva to bring aid to the poor, sick and afflicted. He was a regular visitor to a city prison to help prison to help reform the prisoners.
The Birth of Red Cross The story of Red Cross is an interesting episode in human history and it began in a place where there was an inhuman battle that armies of France and Italy were on one side and the Austrian army was on the other side. More than 3Lakh men faced each other in this battle which was fought on the 24th June, 1859. The battle held at “Solferino’, was a bitter one. It was fought for 15 hours. In the end the whole battlefield was strewn with the dead and the wounded. In those days the armies had few hospitals and few doctor’s assistance and were insufficient to look after the wounded soldiers and give them treatment.
Jean Henry Dunant while travelling on a business mission to meet Napoleon to obtain the permission to run corn mills in Algeria, on his way, saw the ghastly scene in the battlefield and he heard groans of wounded soldiers left to suffer without medical Aid.
By sunset Dunant forgot his business mission and started relief operation to all the wounded soldiers without any discrimination with the help of the local villagers. He picked up the wounded and brought them in ox-carts to ‘Castiglione’ and put them in private homes, churches, monasteries and barracks. He organized a band of volunteers to give medical relief to wounded soldiers of all nationalities.
Days passed and people forgot about the battle, but for Dunant the horrible scenes of the battle made such impression in his mind that he thought that two things were necessary to prevent futures suffering in human race.
An international organization of volunteers should be formed in advance in all countries during peace time which should go into action immediately, on the break of war to help the wounded in the battlefield, irrespective of nationality.
To make these work possible nations must sign on an international treaty declaring the wounded soldiers, the doctors and others are neutrals.
In 1862 Dunant published a book called “The Memory of Solferino” and distributed the copies to heads of the states, journalists and welfare institutions all over the world.
After reading this wonderful book, a charitable institution in Geneva called Geneva Public Welfare Society promised to help in his mission. A committee consisting of five persons with Dunant was formed to find ways and means of achieving the objective.
This committee met on 17th February 1863 and decided to convene an International conference at Geneva in October1863 to form an organization.
Later Dunant travelled all over the World and met the prominent persons to secure their support for his plans. As a result of his efforts leaders of other nations met at an international conference in Geneva on 26th October 1863 to discuss the proposals. 16 countries attended this conference and it was decided at this conference to set up an International Organization called the Society for Aid to Wounded soldiers, and the society later came to be called as the Red Cross society.
Dunant who struggled on with his Human Care, giving up his own livelihood for 40 years ago, set on foot for the growth of International Organization “Red Cross Society” for the relief of the wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
By 1876 he was completely broken and found it difficult even to survive. Then he disappeared from the public view and remained unknown for several years. Suddenly in 1887, he reappeared again in a little town of Heiden in Eastern Switzerland, and stayed in a small boarding home because he was very poor.
All over the world, the birth day of Henry Dunant, the 8th May is observed as “World Red Cross Day” every year. The international organized “Red Cross Society” has become a source of universal hope and comfort it’s a whole time organization having both war time as well as peace time activities by “People helping People”. By its selfless service saved a millions of lives. The peace time activities are promoting humanitarian principal and values, Disaster Management, Promotion of Health, Maternity and Child welfare services, Family welfare services, Family Welfare services, Hospital services, Care of sick and wounded defense personnel, Blood Transfusion Services, Awareness Program about HIV/AIDS/TB/First Aid and Junior/Youth Red Cross activities are conducted in School/ Colleges to bring awareness about Red Cross activities.