ABOUT 70 volunteers of the Fiji Red Cross Society on Vanua Levu had the opportunity to gain extra knowledge and skills in disaster preparedness during a workshop at the weekend.
The volunteers, 26 of whom were from the Seaqaqa branch and 44 from the Labasa branch, were part of the first ever development workshop in the North on Saturday.
The society's resource development manager, Dianne Masih-Reddy, said it was also an opportunity for capacity-building among the volunteers.
"We want to build capacity in all our branches in Fiji because the Red Cross deals with volunteers who give up their time and effort for the purpose of helping the vulnerable in society," she said.
"We all know that a disaster doesn't happen every day and in cases where there is no disaster, we train, prepare and build the capacity of volunteers.
"When there is a disaster, the volunteers work as a team because they all have a common goal of reaching out to the unfortunate ones. This is what the workshop is about."
Ms Masih-Reddy said the volunteers were the society's eyes and ears on the ground.
"We rely on these volunteers when there is a disaster.
"For us at the national office, it will be difficult to come down to Seaqaqa or Labasa to respond to disasters, instead we depend on our volunteers who are our eyes and ears in the community.
"This workshop is set to be an ongoing initiative for our volunteers here for the purpose of preparing and training them."
The society's director general, Filipe Nainoca also featured in the workshop.