St. John Ambulance volunteers during a first-aid-event. PHOTO COURTESY
By KURIAN MUSA
St. Johns Ambulance has raised concerns in the decline in youth volunteer spirit to humanitarian programmes to save lives and spearhead socio-economic development in Africa.
Sir Malcolm Ross who led the inaugural Africa regional meeting, the first function since he was appointed to the position said it is a privilege to lead the order and aims to strengthen each delegation because each country has something to offer.
Sir Ross is second to Queen Elizabeth II of England who is the head. During his stay in Kenya, Sir Malcolm will inspect various projects in the country and pay a courtesy visit to the British High Commissioner, Mr Nic Hailey, as well as the ambassador of the Order of Malta Prince Augusto Ruffo di Calabria.
“Africa is at the front of changing what is happening in the world. It is an opportunity to experience the African challenges including financial mobilization unlike in Scotland where we had hospitals that raised money for disaster response,” Sir Ross said.
Major Retired Marsden Madoka, who chaired the delegation of St. John Ambulance meeting in Nairobi, noted: “Youth volunteer spirit is no more as it used to be. I have volunteered for the last 27 years and I have not made money because I support a lot of Charity work.”
The delegation is meeting to expand outreaches in the continent by emergency preparedness programs and solving youth challenges in Africa. Discussants said there is an opportunity to transform the future of St. John in Africa, to strengthen health programs, and to deliver world class first Aid and safety training in addition to supporting our nations during emergencies and disasters.
“No country in Africa is immune to disasters and health crises, West Africa were affected by Ebola epidemic, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya are among the top-ten countries with highest road accidents globally. Thousands of mothers are still dying while giving birth in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Kenya,” Major Rtd Madoka said.
While there are over 200 million people aged between 15 and 24 years, making Africa the youngest population in the world. There are over 19,000 young people engaged in volunteer opportunities in Kenya.
Sir Malcolm held that youngsters are ‘a ticking time bomb,’ which if not turned into opportunity, can be disastrous. There are and plans are in line to double the figure in the next five years. The African heads of St John Ambulance will Zero in on workable solutions and expand opportunities for the youth. And also to expand programmes that keep the youth engaged, while enhancing their emergency preparedness and productivity
“It is easy for terrorist groups to recruit disillusioned youth who, for lack of nothing better to do have also taken to drugs,” said Sir Malcolm. More youth are encouraged to join the Order of St John, to gain skills to help other vulnerable populations.
At least 66 inmates certified in first aid by St John Ambulance Kenya ready to save lives.PHOTO/COURTESY
Health Crisis in the Country
St John Ambulance is working closely with the National Transport Association, the police. The ministry of health, even down in the counties with various teams working with the county governments.
“Right now we are working closely with the health sector closely, we have been put under the ministry of health, they are to give us financial support and any other assistance that we may need to achieve our goals as an organization,” said Madoka.
However, the current doctors Strike and hunger in Kenya worries him. “We have been called to certain places where people are in emergencies but we have to say we are not doctors, in terms of first aid we can provide. It is a concern to as an association,” said Prior Madoka. Kenya and South Africa are the only countries in Africa with a Prior who sits in the grand council with the Queen of England.
Prior, Major retired Madoka said the communication through the Security Command System (IC3), to the disaster and emergency preparedness agencies, ‘is not as efficient as it should be.” The system was designed in a manner that emergency services were to get an immediate signal when they occur.
To reduce the health consequences of emergency, St John Ambulance is working on enhancing leadership and governance, in addition to expanding her outreaches in Africa through sustainable emergency preparedness programmes.
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