Thursday, July 15, 2010

Geneva - International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva is sobering, inspiring.  The organization addresses not only natural disasters and wartime, but also ongoing political issues, such as treatment of political prisoners, prisoners of war.

Focus exhibits change every few months.  The photographs, vignettes, settings, show the vast reach of the services.  See ://  No organization will be perfect in reaching all it is intended to do, and using funds without reproach, but this one is filling a gap no other group touches in scope.

Note the slogan:  "Our world is in a mess.  It's time to make your move," at the banner at the Museum.  That is the organization for the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Movement. The message is to start with simple gestures; don't wait for the big one to be stepped out and unrolled by others.  Individuals count.

1919 - just after WWI.  The International Federation was started.  American Henry Davison proposed forming a federation, after the war years of highly successful activity by a number of humanitarian groups. The first post-war focus was improvement in health for people in the torn nations. There are now 186 member societies, after the first handful.

But it was a Swiss, Henry Dunant, in 1859 who began the idea itself, after a specific battle, the battle of Solferino. See :// organized local inhabitants to treat wounds, feed and clothe the soldiers. An international committee was formed, also with Dunant, in 1863.  See the history at ://

The American Red Cross:  see its work and the global network at ://  Get practical with the disaster response laws, at ://

Juggling options.

We thought we would park between the Red Cross Museum and the Palais des Nations, the United Nations Conference Center, see the nice Google map here, and how logical it is to park on the nice road between, instead of the parking lot all the way over to the bottom right.  So we did, but the time to do the UN is too long, over two hours, and we got a not so nice ticket.  Switzerland does not know how to do credit cards to pay for les infractions horribles, so you have to do an expensive wire transfer if you don't have an extra day to find out what to do.

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The International Red Cross and Red Crescent are across from each other.

But, if you are pressed for time as we were, skip the UN in Geneva (takes too long, security measures are understandable but stifling, and groups plod) -  look up photos of the UN conference room and fine murals, and enjoy the grounds but go instead to the Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum across the street.

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