Carolina Ferreira of Red Cross earns international award

| 29/04/2019
CNS Local Life
Carolina Ferreira

(CNS Local Life): Carolina Ferreira, Cayman Islands Red Cross deputy director, has received international recognition for her community work, the only person awarded from the Caribbean and one of just two for the entire Americas. In celebration of Honouring Women’s Day on 8 March, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (IFRC) launched a global competition asking members of its 191 national societies to submit nominees to spotlight inspiring women in the areas of leadership and innovation. 

Out of the more than 12,500 nominations received, 14 women, including Ferreira, were given a special Commendation Award for work in their communities. “Ms Ferreira is the true embodiment of the values and principles behind the Red Cross Movement,” said CIRC director Jondo Obi in a press release. “She is a relentless advocate for anyone – especially children – who suffer any injustice, and is constantly working towards helping those whose voice needs to be heard. She is a true leader, and one that fights tirelessly for the Cayman Islands community.”

While the CIRC coordinated the nomination of Ferreira, the actual information and support came from outside the organisation by members of partner agencies that have worked closely with her over the course of many years.

One such partner is Inspector Kevin Ashworth of the Family Support Unit of the RCIPS and a member of the Protection Starts Here (PSH) group, who characterised Ferreira as a fearless leader of the group. “She’s absolutely relentless in her mission of child protection and advocacy, and in what she’s trying to achieve, whether at the Red Cross or as part of the PSH group,” he said. “She doesn’t get put off by any negativity or backs down from a challenge. If she runs into a wall, she’ll just climb over it.”

Sophia Chandler, child psychologist for the Health Services Authority and a member of the PSH group said, “Ms Ferreira has been able to help organise a number of key organisations to come together and do the work that really needs to be done as part of the PSH group. She constantly observes our community – and the world around us, and leading change on a moment by moment basis, to help people and educate the community on important issues.”

Other recipients of this year’s IFRC Commendation Awards included volunteers and staff working in war zones, with refugees and orphans; those in countries that have been hit the hardest due to climate change and who are working towards environmental sustainability; and those in some of the most impoverished areas of the world who are providing health and sanitation education to the most vulnerable. Recipients hailed from countries including Yemen, Kenya, Namibia, Pakistan and South Sudan.

As deputy director and child protection and sexuality education programme manager, Ferreira has multiple responsibilities within the CIRC, among them the coordination of the PSH grassroots multi-agency child abuse prevention project. PSH, born out of the HIV and AIDS Peer Education Programme which she ran between 2002 and 2012, has had tremendous impact locally in furthering the awareness, education, and prevention of child sexual abuse in Cayman, the CIRC said in the press release. 

Ferreira, who celebrated her 20th anniversary with the Cayman Islands Red Cross in 2017, was selected both because of the innovative work that she and the PSH working group have done as well as the leadership qualities that she continues to demonstrate as a coordinator, educator, and advocate for the most vulnerable, said the press release.

“It is really humbling to receive this type of recognition, especially when you consider the barriers and realities that others in the movement are facing- like war and starvation- which are so far removed from our reality it is difficult to wrap our heads around it,” Ferreira said. “However, I was truly floored by how much trust and faith the people that I work with have put and continue to put in me. While this isn’t comparable to war or other large-scale disasters by any means, our work is still difficult work.

“Dealing with child abuse is heart-breaking, demanding, sensitive and unpopular work, and I’m not even at the frontlines of it. I have been so fortunate on so many fronts: at the CIRC I have a team of people who provide unconditional support and encouragement and with PSH I have found incredible professionals who are equally committed, passionate and far more knowledgeable than me who have come together to work for our children. The work that we have all done and continue to do together, that’s what’s truly commendable.”

The work and stories of the 14 recipients of the Commendation Awards will be shared by the International Federation of the Red Cross at various events, exhibitions and communications around the world.

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Category: Community, Local News, Service Organisations

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  1. Anonymous says:

    An amazing and dedicated advocate for child safeguarding..a very worthy award which is received with her usual humility and dignity. Well done Carolina 🙂