This is the VOA Special English Health Report.
International Red Cross Movement grew out of a major battle in the unification
of Italy. The Battle of Solferino took place one hundred fifty years ago, in
June of eighteen fifty-nine. This past week, volunteers from Red Cross and Red
Crescent societies around the world gathered in Solferino to mark the
About eight thousand
people marched in a torch-lit event called the Fiaccolata. They followed in the
footsteps of those who took injured soldiers from Solferino to the nearest
Segarunaya, national youth president of the Ugandan Red Cross Society, says the
visit made him want to work harder to help people.
HANNIGTON SEGARUNAYA: "I am going back to Uganda
in Africa to make more moves for humanity. I know where the young people come
together, we have the possibility of doing whatever it takes to make the world
a better place."
the battle, allied French and Sardinian troops defeated the Austrian army. Around
six thousand men were killed and more than thirty thousand were wounded.
Yet, says Swiss historian Francois Bugnion, the battle lasted
only twelve hours. He says a Swiss businessman named Henri Dunant was horrified
by what he saw.
FRANCOIS BUGNION: "Thousands of wounded were
brought to the next town of Castiglione where he arrived and there was
practically no medical assistance. So he saw hundreds of men, thousands of men,
suffering awfully from very deep wounds and left to die without any real
says Henri Dunant quickly took action. The businessman got local women to
provide food and water. He also got them to dress the wounds of soldiers
without concern for their nationality.
later wrote a book called "A Memory of Solferino." In it, he launchedtwo ideas. One was the idea of voluntary relief societies to provide assistance
to the wounded or other people. This led to the Red Cross and Red Crescent
The second idea was a treaty protecting the wounded and
medical personnel on the field of battle. This, explains historian Francois
Bugnion, is the origin of the Geneva Conventions.
Stephen Ryan is the communications
officer for youth and volunteers at the International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies. He says it is important to get young people
involved in volunteer work at an early age.
STEPHEN RYAN: "Young people need to be given the
opportunity to really feel like they are making a difference in the world. It gives people the opportunity to make
change that they would like to see in the world."
And that's the VOA Special English
Health Report, with reporting from Solferino by Lisa Schlein. Archives of our programs
are at voaspecialenglish.com. I'm Steve Ember.