Secretary General of the Solomon Islands Red Cross Society (SIRCS), Ms. Joanne Zoleveke, has labelled Mr. Robert Leitimoe’s comments in Tuesday’s “Solomon Star” about Red Cross spending thousands on its officials at Rock Haven Inn as unfounded and deliberately misleading.
Ms. Zoleveke said that if the “Solomon Star” reporter had checked with the Society before printing his story, he would have known what the reasons were for placing the provincial staff and volunteers at the Rock Haven Inn.
“Prior to the flash floods 21 of the Society’s Branch staffs and volunteers were brought into Honiara from five (5) of our branches (Temotu, Rennell/Bellona, Gizo, Auki and Guadalcanal) to undergo First Aid training facilitated by our Partner National Society, the New Zealand Red Cross.
“The training was undertaken at Doma FOPA Village. They were in the middle of their training when the flash floods hit and all the bridges and roads in West Guadalcanal were washed out.
“These staff and volunteers (together with their facilitators) walked the 22km to Honiara because they knew that they would be needed in the emergency response the Society was about to undertake. That is the volunteer spirit the Red Cross tries to uphold at all times. Most importantly we rely on our staff and volunteers in disaster times like these because they are highly trained and skilled in the operations we put them into.
“Obviously these staff and volunteers would need to be housed in Honiara and to billet them out to families and friends would create a logistics bungle for our response efforts. They needed to be put in one accommodation in order that we could transport them efficiently to and from the workplace.
“The number of rooms we could take were minimal too as we knew what the costs would be like. The staff and volunteers were sleeping like five (5) or six (6) to a room which is very cramped but they always arrived at work each morning cheerful and ready to tackle the day’s work. The Inn’s management has been generous in giving us special rates thus the amount Mr. Leitimoe is flaunting is inaccurate.
“As for Mr. Leitimoe’s claim that the staff and volunteers were drunk and disorderly, at no time have we received complaints from the Rock Haven Inn management about the staff and volunteers behaviour. In fact they have commended the behavior of our staff and volunteers as guests of the Inn.
“The Solomon Islands Red Cross strives to assist the most vulnerable in our country and as such will always work in the interest of those we are helping,” the statement said.