In 1859, Swiss businessman Jean Henry Dunant saw a terrible sight - the field after a big battle. In one day about 40,000 soldiers died or were left wounded on the battlefield. There was nobody to help them.
Dunant forgot about a business meeting he had planned with the French emperor Napoleon III. He stayed around to care for the wounded. He also organised people to help injured soldiers, even if they were enemy troops.
Dunant wanted to do more to help wounded soldiers. He wrote a book about his experience and sent copies to important people in Europe. He suggested an organisation should be formed that would help injured soldiers, no matter which side they belonged to.
In 1863, the International Committee for Relief to the Wounded was founded. It became the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Sign of the cross
Because Dunant was Swiss, he reversed the colours of the Swiss flag to form the symbol of the Red Cross.
But the red cross is also the sign of crusaders who waged war on Muslims. So, Muslim people were not happy about having that sign represent them. Their Red Cross sections have a red crescent instead.
Jewish people are symbolised by the red crystal when working abroad, and a red Star of David when working at home in Israel.
The Red Cross was formed to help people during times of war. It is very important for it to remain neutral so that both sides of the conflict trust Red Cross workers. Generally, armies will not shoot at targets bearing the red cross.
In Hong Kong
The city's branch, set up in 1950, is made up of about 18,000 volunteers serving in areas such as blood transfusion, community care and disaster relief. It holds first-aid training courses, including for the hearing and speech impaired.
Now do this:
1 Who was the founder of the Red Cross organisation?
a. Henry Dunhill
b. Harry Dubben
c. Henry Dunant
2. Which of the following are recognised Red Cross signs?
a. red cross b. red crescent
c. red feather
d. red crystal
e. red diamond
3 When was the Red Cross founded?