Red Cross: Overseas director visits Saint Martin

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Recently, Frédéric Pichonnat, Overseas Director of the Red Cross, was in Saint-Martin during the inauguration of the Day Reception Center (LAJ) located at the Maison Croix-Rouge in Concordia. The opportunity for Frédéric Pichonnat to meet the new team of volunteers, as well as the employees, as he does, about twice a year.

  Faxinfo: The Red Cross has been involved a lot in recent years and especially since Irma…

  Frédéric Pichonnat: The team of volunteers was already present and they carried out many food aid missions, close to the people who are most in need. But it is true that since Irma we have strengthened our actions, and we have allowed ourselves to expand our activities.

  Faxinfo: It seems that the operation and the structure, since Irma, have changed somewhat compared to previous years.

  Frédéric Pichonnat: There was no establishment, there were far fewer employees. So we have somewhat professionalized everything that is marauding, social emergency services, day care… All of this was done within a well-defined framework, and indeed there are slightly more employees than before. This shows the investment that the Red Cross wants to give in its support for Saint-Martin and for the poorest.

  Faxinfo: How many people does the Red Cross in Saint Martin work with?

  Frédéric Pichonnat: There are now around thirty volunteers in Saint-Martin. There are a lot of “one-day” volunteers, young people who come when there is a need, it's pretty united. I think that Irma put a little boost to everyone in the concept of solidarity. And then it also helps to anchor the Red Cross a little more on a territory.

  Faxinfo: Has the Red Cross given itself the means to expand on the territory?

  Frédéric Pichonnat: We are present in all overseas territories and we are without doubt the only international association. And it's important for us to be here, before Irma, after Irma, in fact, all the time. We did not arrive for Irma, we did not leave after X months, like other associations which, perhaps, did not have the means… We gave ourselves the means by investing, on Red Cross equity for this premises in Concordia.

  Faxinfo: In the end, the structure of the Red Cross in Saint-Martin was considerably strengthened…

  Frédéric Pichonnat: Completely. It starts from an opportunity, and the cyclones have enabled the Red Cross to understand the needs of the population, of the Community. We are auxiliary to the public authorities, so we work with the ARS, the DJRCS, the prefecture… Each time, our principle of neutrality means that we call the Red Cross and that we put ourselves at their disposal.

We are always looking for a lot of volunteers. Do not hesitate to stop by the Red Cross office at 2 rue du Soleil Levant, in Concordia. There is always a need for donations, food aid, clothes, a small gift for children, especially during this Christmas period.

Interview by RM

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