The name Terencia Gaillard or “Terry” has become synonymous with Saint Lucia Red Cross. Having served as Director General of the organization for more than twenty-seven years, the mother of four has dedicated countless hours of humanitarian assistance to the citizens of St Lucia and the Caribbean Region.
Terencia identifies herself as a devoted humanitarian who grew up with the understanding for and appreciation of humanity, something she attributes to her involvement in Girl Guides and the Legion of Mary. Terry’s humanitarian spirit caused her to be a member of the Kiwanis Club and St Lucia Blind Welfare where she held every position including three terms as President. Whilst her participation in these voluntary groups set the stage for developing her humanitarian spirt, Red Cross provided the avenue to stretch her humanitarian spirit even further.
According to Terencia, her role within the Saint Lucia Red Cross is demanding and requires a deep commitment of time and compassion, “you must be committed and compassionate. This job demands time and effort whether it is to raise funds or to attend to someone whose house has burnt down. You cannot sit at the desk and get the job done. You have to be on the go, think outside of the box.”
She continues, “Look at this time, we have limited staff, but the work must go on, so I take up the role as driver when needs be, instructor when needs be, secretary when needs be, because there are people in need.”
Over the years, Terry has ensured that the National Society has the basic resources it needs to meet its mandate. Of recent has been an ambulance through the Japanese Grassroots Project. The ambulance offers hospital transfers to those in need, whilst providing a source of income for the organization to meet its most basic operating costs.
Despite the challenges, Terencia has found her work at the Red Cross very rewarding particularly when she is able to make a difference in the lives of those in need.
“I feel good when I know that I was able to give a helping hand to someone in need. Sometimes it’s just a listening ear that they need, nothing much. You know when you have done a good thing when you pass and they remember and call on you and say thank you,” she says.
She acknowledges however, that the one thing that disappoints her are those who seem never satisfied. “The greedy ones,” she says. “They never seem to have enough and try ways to get more. That is the one thing that I don’t like.”
The disaster recovery efforts in Antigua and Montserrat following the devastation caused by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, remains her most memorable Red Cross experience, although she acknowledges that the hours were long and challenging. Ironically, Terry’s worst experience would be during that same time period traveling on a boat from Antigua to Montserrat. After that experience she swore that she would never travel by boat again.
“The ride was rough. I turned green. I turned yellow. I turned all colours. They gave me a motion sickness tablet with no water to take. My throat and tongue got so numb.”
Yet still, when asked to do the trip again, Terencia took up the challenge. “I went,” she exclaimed with pride.
To date, every member of the Saint Lucia Red Cross knows of this boat experience.