By Nicole Robicheau
Micheline Lagrenade has been volunteering for the Haiti Red Cross in Jérémie for the past 24 years. By looking at her, it’s hard to believe she is 50-years-old.
“I started in 1992, when I was trained in first aid,” says Lagrenade. “But since then, I have done everything here: receptionist, cleaning, logistics.”
Lagrenade is a single mother of four who up until recently, was living in a house on the coastal city of Jérémie. Her house was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew, and she’s been staying with her four children at a friend’s house.
“My colleague gave me four Red Cross shirts to wear, and my friend gave me a pair of shoes,” says Lagrenade. “Other than that, I have nothing left.”
Despite the hardship she is facing, Lagrenade shows up to volunteer her time at the Red Cross office every day.
“People ask me why I do this because I don’t get paid. They say I should stay home,” says Lagrenade. “I say ‘no, I love the Red Cross, and the office won’t run if I’m not here. Sometimes, my family and friends give me money to help.”
Lagrenade doesn’t know how she will repair her house. She would also like to move from the neighbourhood where she currently lives, but she doesn’t have the means.
For now, Lagrenade is focusing on how to best deliver aid provided by the Haiti Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Many families reside in remote areas outside of Jérémie, which are only accessible by foot. Bad road conditions make it difficult to reach with the amount of assistance needed.
“Working on distributions is my favourite thing I’ve done at the Red Cross, because I like working hard and helping people,” says Lagrenade.