The international Red Cross is campaigning through social networking sites on the Internet for the first time to share and encourage personal acts of humanitarian compassion worldwide.
The interactive web portal and online communities launched this week kick off a major campaign to mark the 150th anniversary of the event that led to the founding of the Red Cross movement, the Battle of Solferino.
Advertisement"Each day there are countless stories of unsung courage and achievement just waiting to be told," said Yves Daccord, director of communications at the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"We want the web portal to be a place where someone who is making a difference in one corner of the world can inspire someone on the opposite side of the globe," he added.
The four-language online gateway www.ourworld-yourmove.org highlights the human cost of war, displacement, climate change, disease and hunger, and allows users to share their experiences through blog contributions, video and photo.
Online communities have also been set up on Facebook and MySpace while the Red Cross has opened a channel on YouTube for video contributions.
During the battle between Austrian and French forces in northern Italy on June 24, 1859, Swiss businessman Henry Dunant helped hundreds of wounded soldiers from both sides and was inspired to set up the neutral humanitarian movement.
ICRC spokeswoman Anna Nelson said the online venture was designed to tap the same kind of spirit.
"It's creating an online community in a way that perhaps we have not traditionally looked at before to create a groundswell," she told AFP.
"It brings the field to us."
Ideas, as well as testimony of simple everyday gestures such as carrying shopping for one's elderly neighbour were sought alongside the experiences of relief workers and ordinary people engaged in life-saving acts in war zones.
"We hope to... encourage people to join us in taking action in their communities and to make a difference in the lives of people around them," said Pierre Kremer of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Accounts from victims as well as helpers would be included.
"We often forget that very often they're one and the same," Nelson pointed out.
The online communities will feed into a series of other events leading to the flagship celebration around June 24, and their accounts will also be submitted to decision-makers at an international conference.
The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement not only provides relief aid in conflicts and natural disasters, but also health care and social services in 186 countries.
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