The Nevis Branch of the Red Cross commemorated the annual World Red Cross Day with a week of health-related activities from Sunday, May 2 to Saturday, May 8, the latter being the actual day of celebration. According to the Red Cross Director on Nevis, Mrs. Gloria Anslyn, the activities began with a Sunday service at the St. Paul’s Anglican Church at 9:00 a.m. Father Flemming preached at the service. After the Labour Day holiday on Monday, an Open Day was held on Tuesday, May 4, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. at the Red Cross Building in Charlestown. Pamphlets were distributed at the event. A health fair was held on Wednesday, May 5, from 9:00 a.m. – noon at the War Memorial Square in Charlestown. Red Cross members provided free blood sugar and blood pressure testing to the public. Among the members in attendance were Jacqueline France of the Combermere Health Centre; Nevisian Sheila Liburd, former manager of surgical services at the Joseph N. France General Hospital in St. Kitts; and Claristine Claxton, past matron at the Alexandra Hospital on Nevis. Both Liburd and Claxton are retired nurses. Besides testing, several leaflets were given away to interested persons. “Patients were counselled and advised accordingly,” Liburd said. “We stressed the importance of diet and exercise.” Claxton has been a Red Cross member for 14 years, while Liburd and France joined the organization a year ago. Deputy Director of the Red Cross on Nevis and retired nurse, Dolva Hobson, was available for comment on how she felt being a part of the organization. “I feel motivated … being a nurse for many years made it easy to be a member,” she posited. Hobson noted that everyday she talks to people about healthy living, excess fat, excess sugar and excess alcohol, mentioning that men are still “very shy” and “afraid” when it comes to medical issues. “They have the ‘everything is going to be alright’ mentality,” she said. Hobson finds that, in general, women are much more desirous of obtaining information about themselves and their health. “I try to help as much as I can. It’s commitment, love for people and service,” Hobson said of the rewards of being a Red Cross member, which she has been since 1976. The Mental Health Unit joined Red Cross members at the health fair, the first time that a partnership was formed between the two organizations. The collaboration came about through Community Psychiatric Nurse Manager, Mrs. C. Meredith Amory-Field, of the Mental Health Unit. The unit was ably represented at the event By Ms. Stevee Jones, who spoke with The Observer about the significance of the day’s activities. “The mental health of the people is very important; it’s essential,” she said. According to Ms. Jones, a primary focus has been placed on removing the label that people who require mental health attention are “crazy.” She also provided some local statistics on mental illness, including the fact that in 2008, most clients were diagnosed with depression – a malady suffered By more women than men. Women, however, found it “easier” to come out and discuss depression. In the noted year, the second highest mental health diagnosis was schizophrenia. From information gleaned from a Mental Health Unit leaflet, schizophrenia is “a chronic disorder illustrated By intense interruptions in thinking,” and commonly includes visual and aural hallucination or delusions. So far for this year, 18 new clients have been diagnosed with various mental maladies. Ms. Jones said that stigma is what hinders people from getting themselves checked, or if they do so it is in a secretive manner. She also spoke about her career, and the long-time interest she had in the field of mental health. Ms. Jones joined the Mental Health Unit on March 1, 2010. The other members are Lesa Smith and recently retired Nurse Clarke. The Mental Health Unit was previously housed at the Charlestown Health Centre, but in 2006 it was relocated to the rooms above the pharmacy at the Alexandra Hospital on Government Road. Office hours are from Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., and members can be reach via e-mail at: nevismentalhealthunit@gmail.com or By telephone at 469-5473 Ext. 1140. One of the unit’s guiding sentiments was captured in quote attributed to Margaret Larson: “Mental illness is an equal-opportunity illness. Everyone one of us is impacted By mental illness. One in five adults is dealing with this illness, and many are not seeking help because the stigma prevents that.” A special surprise was provided to Mrs. Gloria Anslyn on Thursday, May 6 at about 9:30 a.m. in the Red Cross Building. Ms. Maude Crosse, one of the founders of the Senior Red Cross group in 1993, presented a gift-wrapped wooden plaque to Mrs. Anslyn in a gesture of appreciation for her hard work, dedication and love. The presentation occurred during a meeting held on the first Thursday of each month. In all, there were 25 senior members present. Invited guest and Junior Red Cross Leader, Denis Springette, educated the audience on what the Junior Red Cross is all about. “Young people have a vital role to play in the proper functioning and development of any National Society,” he informed. “Therefore, it is imperative to invest in and recognize them as agents of change nationally, regionally and internally.” According to Mr. Springette, the aim of the organization is ‘to position Red Cross Youth in the Caribbean as key actors and stakeholders, harnessing their energy, idealism, dynamism (enthusiasm), and potential … to be able to meet the Federation’s vision which states ‘We strive through voluntary action for a world of empowered communities, better able to address human suffering and crisis with hope, respect for dignity, and a concern for equity.” He also outlined the seven Red Cross fundamental principles, which included humanity, impartiality and unity. Also stated was the organization’s promise to serve God and Country, and to join with others all over the world to help the sick and suffering. Mr. Springette told the audience that they are involved in sporting events, community service, hiking, visiting of senior citizens, bleach cleanups, painting of garbage bins, and distributing them – among other things to keep young people out of trouble. Ms. Smith and Ms. Jones, who work with the senior Red Cross members, were also present, as was Mrs. Amory-Field as the chairperson for the seniors. “We want to keep persons well and functioning,” said nurse Amory-Field. The Junior Red Cross’ membership drive was held on Friday, May 7, from about 8:30 a.m. (during assembly time) at the Charlestown Secondary School. A significant increase in members was reported. Prior to the drive, the membership number stood at 25. Later that day, a light luncheon was held from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Red Cross Building. Some items on the menu were Mahi Mahi, macaroni pie, rice with peas, and raw vegetables. To close the week of activities, a special commemoration message from the International Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, was read By Mrs. Anslyn on Saturday, May 8 at 8:00 a.m. on V.O.N. Radio.