Seven weeks after the powerful 8.0 earthquake claimed more than 70,000 lives in China, Gail McGovern, the new president and CEO of the American Red Cross is in China seeing the needs of the survivors.
“The purpose of this trip is to build bridges and to have an opening for a dialogue with the people of China,” McGovern said. “Just to tell them how important China is to our country and how much we want to help the people of China.”
McGovern and David Meltzer, senior vice president of International Services for the American Red Cross, along several other humanitarian organizations and leaders of corporations– such as Procter and Gamble, Honeywell, Cisco, Chevron and Johnson & Johnson— traveled to China at the invitation of the U.S. Government’s Agency for International Development (USAID)
On Monday in city of Yingxiu, they talked to students and teachers who survived the collapse of their schools during the quake.
“By far the most heartbreaking, emotional sight that I saw was at the primary school where one young girl described the terror and what happened,” McGovern said. “She described losing her brother and losing her friend and the sounds; that was really the moment that it hit me: This isn’t just looking at construction, it’s looking at broken lives.”
The American Red Cross has committed $20 million to help the earthquake survivors recover and sent two relief experts to the affected area. Later this week, another relief worker will be heading to China to work with the Red Cross Society in China to support longer-term recovery efforts and help determine additional needs.
Although the recovery is fading from the headlines, great needs still remain. Even though McGovern has only been in her new position two weeks, she says meeting these survivors has reaffirmed her commitment to the organization.
Of joining the Red Cross, she said, “I absolutely made the right decision.”
As part of the world's largest humanitarian network, the American Red Cross alleviates the suffering of victims of war, disaster and other international crises, and works with other Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to improve chronic, life-threatening conditions in developing nations. We reconnect families separated by emergencies and educate the American public about international humanitarian law. This assistance is made possible through the generosity of the American public.