Stephen Lewis and HRH Princess Anne praise work of RedR Canada
Two famous figures helped to promote a relatively new engineering disaster relief organization in early June. HRH...
Two famous figures helped to promote a relatively new engineering disaster relief organization in early June. HRH Princess Anne came to Toronto to present an award on behalf of RedR to Stephen Lewis at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto.
Her Royal Highness is President of RedR, an international organization that stands for Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief. Stephen Lewis is a well-known former Canadian politician and now the United Nations’ Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS to Africa.
Lewis’s driven program to help those stricken with AIDS made him an obvious choice for the RedR Canada second Award for International Humanitarian Service. He is also a riveting speaker who talks effortlessly and passionately about the crisis in Africa and of other disasters currently facing the world. “It feels as though the world has gone mad,” he said, recalling the violence and troubles in countries like Iraq, Darfur, Western Sudan, the Democractic Republic of the Congo and the Middle East. He said the situation for women stricken by AIDS/HIV is “shocking,” and that in places like Sub-Saharan Africa, Jamaica Haiti and Brazil, “women have been singled out in a perverse Darwinian assault.” He said there are 15 million orphans due to AIDS now, and they expect 25 million by 2005. “It’s beyond imagining,” he said.
Stephen also recalled how he had discovered engineers “became indispensable” on the front lines, and thus that receiving the RedR award made him “very proud to be one of your family.”
RedR Canada started just two years ago in 2002, joining existing RedR organizations in the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. The non-profit organization provides skilled engineering support to front-line agencies who are operating in disaster areas around the world. Thus it hopes to enlist professional engineers skilled in appropriate skills in order to send them out to work in disaster areas in the field. The organization doesn’t directly supply relief, but rather provides support through the large agencies such as Oxfam, World Vision, Care and the Red Cross. It also provides training, including recent workshops on maintaining security for workers in overseas troubled regions. Several speakers besides Lewis at the Toronto award presentation mentioned how useful it was to have such a supportive agency rather than an additional agency “competing” with the major NGOs on the front lines.
RedR was founded by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Canada, the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, the Engineering Institute of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The Chair is David Chalcroft, P.Eng. of Calgary (a principal with UMA). Bob Lorimer, P.Eng., consulting engineer of Whitehorse, is RedR Secretary.
So far RedR has recruited 43 members, and its goal this year is to accredit a minimum of 40 new members before March 2005. It has made eight placements, in Bolivia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Maldives, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
RedR is also running a major fundraising campaign and many consulting engineering firms and other engineering organizations are lending their financial support. Supporting sponsors include A.D. Williams Engineering, ADI Group, Ajilon, Associated Engineering, APEGGA, Benjamin B. Torchinsky, Consulting Engineers of Alberta, Giffels, Infrastructure Systems, J.L. Richards, Keen Engineering, MacViro Consultants, Morrison Hershfield, N.D. Lea Consultants, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, Schaeffer and Associates, SNC-Lavalin Group, Stantec, Tecsult and TMP Consulting Engineers.