A team of ten volunteers from Cruz Rojo Mexicana arrived at the Greater New York DRO on Friday, November 2 at the invitation of the International Department desk of the American Red Cross. Similar groups of Red Cross volunteers from Mexico have been on the ground after Katrina, at the 9/11 operations, the San Diego wildfires, and at many more American relief operations over the years. They provide a very special kind of comfort and relief to their countrymen living in America, many of whom feel especially isolated and cut off from personal support following a disaster.
One Latino occupant at the Sachem High School shelter broke into tears at the sight of the Cruz Rojo Mexicana logo. As the Mexican team walked door to door in the devastated areas of Long Beach on Long Island, Latino residents, who previously would not come out of their houses to get food from the ERV, opened their doors and enthusiastically embraced the volunteers who also brought a familiar language and culture along with food and bulk clean-up supplies.
The Mexican workers have been warmly received by Latinos at Rockaway, Breezy Point and Nassau County, Long Island. Thus far they have visited shelters, and feeding stations, accompanied ERVs to deliver food and bulk supplies. The assignment changes daily based upon the need for this very flexible group. A second team of ten volunteers are scheduled to arrive Tuesday, November 6 for service in Jew Jersey.
Cruz Rojo Mexicana, selects the volunteers for this international operation based upon their experience with domestic disasters, previous international duty, and their facility with the language. Like their American counterparts, they come from all areas of their country with a common set of training and skills. But in Mexico, all Cruz Rojo volunteers are also trained as EMTs, and operate ambulance services.
While on duty in America, the Mexican team is supported by Josh Eckley, an employee of American Red Cross assigned to International Response Operations in Washington, D.C. Josh serves as liaison with Central and South American volunteer groups because of his knowledge of the language and his own prior experience serving in Red Cross operations in Guatemala. Alex Agosti is manager of the Latin American and Caribbean Region of International Services.