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Little deeds, great feat

SOCIAL SERVICE is no mean task. In a world so embittered, it is hard to find people engaged in selfless, dedicated work for society. But the young and intrepid members of the Juniour Red Cross are precisely doing this.

United by a spirit of service to society, the members of the junior Red Cross (JRC), the world over are serving society in many seen and unseen ways. This fellowship of children is a dedicated and committed group, driven purely by mutual love for humanity.

Formed during the First World War, in Quebec, Canada, its origin was in the good work done by the little children as part of the Red Cross. With nimble fingers, deftly making bandages and dressings for the wounded soldiers, the idea to have a separate wing for little children arose. Thus was born the Junior Red Cross. It soon formed branches all over Europe and America, and post war; its good work prevented its closure.

Today, the little friends of JRC can be seen across the world. With a membership of several million, the JRC is an organisation doing very good work.

In India, the JRC was first set up in Punjab, in 1926. It functions as a group within the school, with the children as members, and the teacher their leader and advisor. Under the guidance of the teacher, the children are trained and encouraged to manage the affairs of the group. Each group, according to its own capacity and local needs, selects its own activities.

"The members of JRC adopt service as their lifestyle without expecting any reward. What they derive out of this is joy and satisfaction," says Ratnakala S. Menon, vice-president of Indian Red Cross, Ernakulam Branch.

At the school level, members bring a matchbox full of rice and handover to the teacher, who at the month-end, distributes it to the needy children. Similarly pen and pencils are collected and distributed to their poorer brethren.

These children do not keep away from the trials and tribulations of the sick and the elderly. Visiting hospitals and old age homes is part of their activities. "After seeing the miserable experiences of the patients and the old, they return home with a mind full of sorrow and sympathy," says Jose Francis, secretary of the JRC, Ernakulam district. "Children with mind so purified will grow up as the best examples of tomorrow," he adds.

Besides social service, the JRC children are also trained to control traffic, in fire fighting and road safety. An annual camp held at the end of each year provides them with an opportunity for fun and adventure. The hallmark of a JRC member is courage. This year Ashley Joseph, a Standard 8 student was presented with the `Jeevan Raksha' award for rescuing the life of a drowning boy. Such stories of bravery abound in the history of this organisation.

Character formation being one of the tenets of JRC, young, impressionable minds are groomed as citizens of the world. These tender hands, ready to reach out whenever needed, the Junior Red Cross is an organisation that does us proud.

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