It has been my pleasure to be a photographer with the Canadian Red Cross in Calgary, Alberta for several years now. I get tremendous satisfaction from contributing my skills to such a worthwhile organization.
As many of you know, I spend five or six months each year just outside Panama City in a place called Los Altos de Cerro Azul. It is a great way to escape the Great White North and live a completely different way of life in the Chagress National Park, here in the jungle of Panama.
Last year I thought I would like to contact the Red Cross, here in Panama, to see if I could contribute photography to them. I was unable to make a connect, so when I got back to Canada last year, I asked for a contact in Panama through the official channels of the Canadian Red Cross and they made the connection for me.
Beside the Panamanian Red Cross Office, here in Panama, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has its office for the Americas Region, which covers North and South America as well as the Caribbean. (http://www.ifrc.org/americas) I bet you didn’t know that this office assisted in the Calgary Flood of 2013. There are actually members of the Canadian Red Cross and the American Red Cross embedded in the IFRC operation here. The office here is in the prestigious City of Knowledge, in Panama City, which requires that organizations qualify prior to opening operations there.
There is also a warehouse, run by Global Logistics Service, which is an arm of the IFRC with its head office in Dubai, UAE. The Panama warehouse is located in an area called Panama Pacifica, which has its own air strip, formerly the Howard Airforce Base when the Americans were here. That, with easy access to the Panama Canal, makes for logistical efficiencies that allow for easy movement of materials by ship or air.
World Disasters Report 2015
My first assignment for the IFRC was to shoot a meeting announcing the release of the World Disasters Report 2015, which is a serious 263 page report that is produced each year and covers disasters throughout the world. If you would like a look, go here. (http://www.ifrc.org/en/publications-and-reports/world-disasters-report/world-disasters-report/) The event was held in the warehouse building and had invitees from many of the Embassies within the scope of the IFRC Americas Zone.
After the presentation, I took the opportunity to take my camera on a wander through the warehouse which was full of palletised non-perishable equipment and supplies that would be needed to quickly support any disaster. The warehouse is meticulously maintained. Pallets are all lined up, the floor is clean and painted, and caution areas are clearly marked with fresh yellow paint. An adjacent building, also a warehouse, had a number of very clean identical white three-ton trucks backed carefully into loading bays, all on the same angle, evenly spaced and with wheels carefully straightened. Very interesting, very neet and very cool!