Vietnam Red Cross Society: 75 Years of Glorious Journey

The year 2021 is remarkable, marking the 75-year history of the establishment and development of the Vietnam Red Cross Society. This is an opportunity for each officer, member, youth, and volunteer of the Red Cross to honor and proudly review the 75-year tradition of the Society, as well as an opportunity for each person to do humanitarian work, to demonstrate the role and responsibility in inheriting and promoting the nation's traditional compassion, carrying out the noble and sacred humanitarian mission entrusted by the Party and State, continuously writing more beautiful pages of history of the Vietnam Red Cross Society.

Historical milestones

The 1945 August Revolution was successful, while the revolutionary government was still young and facing dangerous situations. The empire and colonialists set out to wage war to force our people back into slavery. It was in those days when the atmosphere was vibrant with revolutionary spirit, a number of patriotic intellectuals and scholars campaigned for permission to establish the Vietnam Red Cross Board (the predecessor organization of the current Vietnam Red Cross Society).

One day in the early spring of 1946, President Ho Chi Minh met and worked with a delegate from the Campaign Committee to establish the Vietnam Red Cross, and on November 23, 1946, he attended the first Vietnam Red Cross Congress at the Communal Hall of Thanh Am village, Van Dinh town, Ung Hoa district, Ha Tay (nowadays merged into Hanoi) where the Vietnam Red Cross Society was officially established.

The Congress elected President Ho Chi Minh to be the Honorary President of the Society and he was the Honorary President of the Society for 23 years from the day of establishment of the Society until his death.

Elderly comrades of the Vietnam Red Cross Society. (Source: Vietnam Red Cross Society)

The birth of the Vietnam Red Cross Society met the requirements of contributing to the health and life of the people, promptly serving the national resistance war against the French colonialists, initially laying the foundation for Vietnam's international integration process in the humanitarian field.

Since then, November 23, 1946 has gone down in the history of the Vietnam Red Cross Society as a milestone, marking the birth of a mass humanitarian social organization, founded by late President Ho Chi Minh who served as the first Honorary President.

From only a few hundred members in the early days of its establishment, until now, the Red Cross staff, members, youth, and volunteers of the Society have grown up, becoming a huge force of humanitarian workers...

Starting from the fact that the Society's activities were concentrated in a few big cities, in a number of specific areas (health care, first aid, care for the wounded and sick soldiers and assistance to people affected by war), up to now, the Society has been present in most communes, wards and towns, in numerous schools, agencies and organizations with plentiful and diverse activities, attached to different audiences in different regions, and fields of activity, in different circumstances, focusing on 4 key activities: Social work; Health care; Blood donation, human organs and tissues donation; Disaster Prevention and Response.

Over 75 years of establishment and development, the Vietnam Red Cross Society has organized 10 congresses, 5 patriotic emulation congresses, 5 youth camping fiestas, and national Red Cross Volunteers, consecutively led by 6 honorary presidents, 7 full-time Chairmen.

Five milestones of pride

Passing through 75 years, along with the development of the country, the development history of the Vietnam Red Cross Society is a vivid expression of the connection between the nation's benevolent tradition of kindness, humanity and charity attached to the national interests, in harmony with the people's life and recorded with various milestones of pride:

Firstly, the Vietnam Red Cross Society is directly led and oriented by the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee through the Party’s Union system, with the issuance of 2 Directives (Directive No. 14/CT-TW dated September 7, 1987 on "Strengthening the organization, promoting the positive effects of the Vietnam Red Cross Society" and Directive No. 43/CT-TW dated June 8, 2010 "On strengthening the leadership of the Party in the work of the Vietnam Red Cross Society" which allowed the Society to deploy "Humanity Month" since 2018.

“The Vietnam Red Cross Society has continuously been a reliable address for people from all walks of life, including the overseas Vietnamese community to trust and make contributions into humanitarian activities, highlighting the beauty of our country. the human nature of our regime, the benevolent tradition of our nation." General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong, Honorary President of the Vietnam Red Cross Society.

Secondly, the Vietnam Red Cross Society has always been attended by the highest leaders of the Party and State by their acceptance to take the role of Honorary President: President Ho Chi Minh (1946-1969); General Secretary Do Muoi (1995-2001); President Tran Duc Luong (2001-2012); President Truong Tan Sang (2012-2017); President Tran Dai Quang (2017-2018); From 2019 to present, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong. Vietnam Red Cross Society is awarded the Ho Chi Minh Merit Medal twice (in 1998 and 2011).

Thirdly, the Government and the Prime Minister take concern of the Vietnam Red Cross Society; the Prime Minister twice issued a directive (Directive No. 254/TTg dated May 16, 1994 on the support and creation of conditions for authorities at all levels to improve the operational efficiency of the Vietnam Red Cross Society; Circular No. 18/CT-TTg dated July 9, 2018 on “Improving the effectiveness of humanitarian work and Red Cross activities in the new situation.” In 2018, the Prime Minister signed and approved the Charter for the first time in 2018.

Fourthly, the Vietnamese National Assembly officially promulgated the Law on Red Cross activities on June 3, 2008 and took effect from January 1, 2009.

Fifthly, the Vietnam Red Cross Society is an active member in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The movement comprises of three components: the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and the 192 country members.

Innovation for sustainable development

In 2021, Vietnam and the world continue to face a fast, complicated and hard control Covid-19 pandemic, negatively affecting the economies of countries including Vietnam, directly affecting the poor families, those in difficult circumstances, and the unemployed, underemployed people.

In that context, the Societies at all levels advised, directed and organized the implementation of programs and plans in line with the targets of the Resolution of the National Congress at all levels and the Resolution of the 10th National Red Cross Congress through creative and flexible ways, step by step associated with information technology, with high efficiency, notably the participation in the prevention and control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Society's major movements are operated such as "Lunar New Year for the Poor and Agent Orange victims”, “Humanitarian Month" are also flexibly rolled out, relevant to the context of the Covid-19 pandemic with operating models. as creative and effective as "Humanitarian Market". In particular, in the fierce and arduous anti-pandemic war with efforts and determination to prevent and repel the epidemic, there were relentless efforts, with those determined officials, Red Cross members and volunteers who were not afraid to endanger their health and lives to work with the goal of community-oriented, standing side by side with the people in difficult and disadvantaged situations.

Vietnam Red Cross Society participate in taking samples for Covid-19 testing. (Source: Vietnam Red Cross Society)

With the Red Cross spirit of "For Everyone, Everywhere", with their kindness, silent sacrifice, deep dive sharing, Red Cross volunteers have participated in transporting goods. commodities and medical equipment for frontline forces and people in isolation and quarantine areas; organize humanitarian fairs, send heartwarming gifts during the epidemic spell; join the free-meal kitchens to take care of meals for key forces; participate in supporting healthcare forces in taking test samples and vaccination. The Red Cross Society at all levels also actively mobilized and received resources from local benefactors and businesses to promptly support the people in epidemic-affected areas and localities.

A number of movements and humanitarian campaigns launched and implemented by the Society have spread and are making a strong impression in society in the period (2017-2021) such as Movement "Lunar New Year for the Poor and Agent Orange victims” when the Society supported 13 million poor households with a total value of VND 5,449 billion; the campaign "Each organization and individual associated with a humanitarian address" was launched in 2008, creatively rolled out, nearly 415,000 "humanitarian addresses" were supported with an amount of over VND 536 billion. "Humanitarian Month" was launched in 2018, after 4 years of implementation, it had supported 3,700,000 people with a value of VND 1,545 billion.

The COVID-19 prevention activities has reached VND 915 billion up to now. Regarding voluntary blood donation, the Society has built a large force of voluntary blood donors, attaining 6,500,000 blood units, reaching 1.5% of the population. In the past 5 years, the Society has mobilized over VND 1,935 billion, supporting 12,500,000 turns of natural disaster-affected people. The Society’s units all levels are constantly strengthened and consolidated; international cooperation expanded; more and more resources effectively mobilized; the work of consulting with the Party and State to lead and direct humanitarian work has been remarkably improved and changed.

The strategy "Development of the Vietnam Red Cross by 2030, with a vision toward 2045" and the theme "Innovation for sustainable development" rolls out the contents of ensuring social security and preventing natural disasters, care of people's health in the 10-year socio-economic development strategy (2021-2030) approved at the 13th National Congress of the Party and creatively apply the 2030 Strategy of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, strongly renovating the way it operates based on 5 thrushes: Support and develop local Society at all levels; inspire and mobilize volunteers; ensure trust and accountability; perform the digitalization; promote international cooperation and increasingly promote the role of the Vietnam Red Cross Society in the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The development strategy of the Vietnam Red Cross Society by 2030, with a vision toward 2045 considers the building of specialized agencies of the Society to be lean and strong; developing sustainable partnerships with agencies and organizations inside and outside the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement; mentoring on the development and implementation of policies, operation of mechanisms and coordination in humanitarian and charitable activities as the key tasks.

The Society considers social work in the humanitarian field, propagating humanitarian values ​​as a fundamental and highly dominant task; implementing disaster prevention and response activities, building and transferring models of a safe community, health care in emergency situations, integrating voluntary blood donation with tissue donation; also the development of the volunteer force, effectively organizing first aid activities, building and replicating production and service models for humanitarian purposes are considered as breakthrough tasks.

In the coming period, the units in various levels of the Red Cross should focus on effectively organizing humanitarian activities and models, strongly propagating humanitarian values, promoting trust and accountability, and promoting core values ​​of the Red Cross: Humanity, impartiality, voluntary participation, professionalism, transparency, adaptation, efficiency, environment creation, humanitarian inspiration for activities of charity; human force development, volunteer lineup; building and implementing the digitalization in the Society system to gradually adapt and integrate the Technology 4.0, towards the goal of “Innovation for Sustainable Development”.