Esther Muiruri’s role as one of the first responders of the Westgate Mall attack was supporting with the blood donation at Kenya’s Uhuru Park. This was her first tragedy to encounter. Kenya Red Cross Society launched a one-week blood donation drive and psychosocial support services across the county setting up a 24-hour command centre.
But this is not the story of Kenya Red Cross response. This is the story of a woman who have selflessly given her time and energy to volunteer and work for a society working towards alleviating human suffering. Having more than seven years of experience in disaster preparedness and response, Esther has worked with communities in Kenya to prepare for and respond to climate related disasters such as floods, fire and drought. As a Disaster Risk Reduction Officer she has an expertise in developing preparedness and adaptation for communities living in informal settlements.
– Esther Muiruri, Kenya
”I choose to do something”
”There are things we see happening around us and many times as human beings we have two choices, to be compassionate and do something or be compassionate and walk way. I choose to do something. Volunteering with Kenya Red Cross was a no-brainer for me, it created a platform to give of my time in different capacities that included mobilizing people for community impact based activities and always being there when needed in emergency responses.”
Growing up during periods of drought that heavily affected different regions in Kenya, Esther is very aware of the idea that there are days when you only have one meal to eat, some days none at all. ”I might not have felt the full effect of it, but I saw the struggle which my parents went through.”
Each member of her family had a role to play in the sustenance of their livelihood. But Esther fell in love with books, and although they struggled with finances it did not deter her from reading. Her goal? To one day be the change she wanted to see.
– Esther Muiruri, Kenya
”When you are enabled you are in a position of influence”
”The length that I have come is due to the foundation laid out by Kenya Red Cross. By being a volunteer to a staff, I have continuously been involved in knowledge sharing, designing and conducting climate change activities.”
Esther has been involved with tree planting, community street clean-ups, training communities on building safe shelters and building community resilience through her work in urban risk reduction/ urban risk resilience which is implemented by the Kenya Red Cross.
”Kenya Red Cross has created a platform where I feel equal and enabled. When you are enabled you are in a position of influence. Use your influence to build something positive through both small and large steps.”
Women in emergency response is not something that is talked about often. The conversation is always around women being the most affected in disasters. According to Esther, this particular fact is the reason why women should be acknowledged for being among the first responders. “They know how much a disaster affects their families. By being trained on emergency response they will be well equipped to know what to do when a disaster strikes.”
“I would love to see a world where women and men are treated equally. Where women don’t have to work twice as hard. Where women and men are given leadership positions competitively.”
“The women of Castiglione nursed and soothed the wounded soldiers, ut when the Red Cross was born, no women were in attendance. Today women are still nursing the wounded... But are they in on the decision making?”