By Maude Froberg, IFRC

On 15 May 2017, the Red Cross unveiled an ambitious new initiative to provide one million volunteers with bicycles so that they can better reach isolated and vulnerable communities in China. Dubbed the “Volunteers on Wheels” project, the initiative is the result of a partnership between the Red Cross Society of China and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), with support from the Chinese government.

The project will also allow volunteers to provide better humanitarian services in countries along the ‘Belt and Road’ route, which connects Asia with Europe and Africa.

“One of our main goals with Volunteers on Wheels is to promote global voluntary services, mobilise partners, and connect people together to provide better humanitarian care to the last mile,” said Dr. Zhu Chen, President of the Red Cross Society of China. “As part of the Belt and Road initiative, this project is the first of its kind.”

During his speech at the launch, IFRC Secretary General Mr. Elhadj As Sy, highlighted the importance of building stronger and more resilient communities through the initiative. “Volunteers on Wheels is a simple, low-cost idea that will have major positive consequences for our volunteers and for the people they are serving,” Mr. Sy said. “It means they will be able to reach more people with critical services such as first aid, road safety promotion, community disaster preparedness, health prevention or social inclusion activities.”

The project initially focused on Red Cross volunteers in China, but is expected to expand to other countries across Asia.