By Ika Koeck, IFRC

The excited chatter of Malaysian Red Crescent youth volunteers fills the air as bicycles are lined up at the side of the national society’s large multipurpose hall.

The bikes are gifts from the Red Cross Society of China as part of the Volunteers on Wheels project, a global initiative involving the national society and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The aim is to equip one million Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers with bicycles to increase their reach and impact, particularly in areas that are not necessarily accessible via other vehicles.

“The Volunteers on Wheels project represents more than supplying bicycles to volunteers – It is also aimed at creating a culture of health and safety in local communities,” said Dr. Chen Zhu, Vice President of the IFRC and President of the Red Cross Society of China. “The initiative hopes to inculcate greater people to people connectivity and solidarity, and act as vehicles for awareness raising by our volunteers. The volunteers will also be given essential first aid training.”

In his speech during the handover ceremony, Dato’ Sayed A Rahman Sayed Mohd, Secretary General of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, said that the Volunteers on Wheels programme will further increase the response time for Red Crescent volunteers in implementing humanitarian services such as first aid.

“Malaysian Red Crescent Society will have fully-trained volunteers to provide specialized training for the Volunteers on Wheels programme,” Dato’ Sayed added.

“This initiative will be rolled out in four phases, beginning with the distribution of these bicycles to five selected states within Malaysia’s East Coast. It will be followed by the second phase, which includes basic to advanced training on first aid, health promotion, disaster risk reduction, road safety, social inclusion and home care.

“The third phase will see the implementation of the programme during corporate and community events such as the KL Car Free Morning, while a thorough monitoring and evaluation of the entire initiative will be done in the final phase.”

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