Bulgaria Marks World Red Cross, Red Crescent Day
On May 8, Bulgaria marks the World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day. The Bulgarian Red Cross (BRC) welcomed distinguished guests to a ceremony in its Sofia headquarters.
The date marks the birth of Henry Dunant (1828 - 1910), founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
The Bulgarian Red Cross was founded in 1878, immediately after the country's liberation from the Ottoman Empire. It currently has 28 regional and 269 municipal branches. Nearly 20,000 volunteers work for the BRC, assisting in a wide variety of activities, emergency relief, helping refugees, and rescue operations.
Thursday's event was attended by high-ranking Bulgarian officials, including the Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov and Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.
The BRC Head, Hristo Grigorov opened with remarks of gratitude towards everybody involved in the organization's work.
"This year we celebrate 136 years of the Bulgarian Red Cross. It is one of the first institutions formed in Bulgaria after the liberation and also one of the most visible non-governmental organizations. None of this would have been possible without the active participation of the Bulgarian citizens over the years. Our achievements are the result of a tight bond between the Red Cross, the Bulgarian people, and the state institutions", Grigorov stated.
"Our biggest asset are the volunteers. Without their self-sacrificing effort, the fulfillment of BRC's mission would not be possible. These young people with huge hearts, working not for material benefits, but for bringing hope to desperate people, are a source of great pride and positive contribution to the future of Bulgaria", the BRC head added.
Parliament Speaker Mihail Mikov congratulated the BRC for their holiday and expressed his gratitude for what the organization is doing for Bulgarian society.
"The Bulgarian state will stand firmly behind the benevolent cause of the BRC. It is an organization which brings not only material relief, but also ideas of solidarity and hope. I hope these ideas will be advanced into the future and passed on to generations of Bulgarians", Mikov stressed.
The mayor of Sofia Yordanka Fandakova thanked the BRC for their cooperation with the Sofia Municipality over the years.
"I sincerely thank the BRC for what they do in some of the most difficult situations. Their efforts in helping us deal with emergency situations have been immense. The BRC's experts and trainers have been extremely helpful in training the Sofia Municipality's volunteer team. Our joint projects involve helping the homeless people, especially in the cold winter months, as well as our work with refugees over the past several years", Fandakova pointed out.
Stanimir Boyadzhiev of the Bulgarian Youth Red Cross briefly presented this year's campaign "My Red Cross Story", which is geared towards organizing campaigns to motivate more young people in volunteering. It comprises of activities designed to show the wider society how the BRC works, as well as what stories or ideas inspire the current volunteers.
The ceremony proceeded with special gratitude towards all the institutions, embassies, media, and businesses which have contributed to the work of the Bulgarian Red Cross.
Mr. Grigorov handed out certificates of merit to the Bulgarian Presidency, Sofia Municipality, the State Agency for Refugees, the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria, UNHCR, the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The embassies of Palestine, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Netherlands, United States, and Republic of Korea also received special appreciation for the assistance and financial help their countries had provided for the refugee crisis. Among the major corporate donors, Nestle Bulgaria, Coca Cola, and the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union received certificates.
Last but not least, the BRC head thanked the media, who as he affirmed are "the bridge between the organization and society", without which the BRC's activities would not reach out to as big an audience.