Olivier Brault, Director General of the French Red Cross

This evening, thanks to the patronage of the SAFRAN group, the Orchestre des Musiciens de la Prée will be giving its "concert to celebrate 150 years of the French Red Cross". This event is presented within the framework of the "Seasons of Solidarity" concert initiative conceived by the Orchestra and supported for the past two years by SAFRAN.

How did the French Red Cross get involved with the SAFRAN Group?

Three years ago, the first Season of Solidarity in aid of the Red Cross gave us the opportunity to get acquainted with Pejman Memarzadeh, the conductor and founder of the Orchestre des Musiciens de la Prée. Through him, I had the opportunity to meet Françoise Descheemaeker, the Safran Corporate Patronage Director. The Safran Group had by that time chosen to support the action of the Musiciens de la Prée. As well as supporting a humanitarian cause, the solidarity concerts are also a place for people to meet, offering yet a further outlet for increased solidarity.

The Red Cross is intending to use the receipts from this concert to buy learning toys for disabled youngsters. Why this choice?

Born in 1859 on the battlefield at Solferino, the French Red Cross is this year celebrating its 150th anniversary. The fact that we are promoting this anniversary is not out of a sense of memorial duty but because we feel it is important today to be aware of the battlefields of our time, the “Solferinos” of today. The cause of children in difficulty is surely one such battlefield. This is why we want to dedicate all the receipts of this solidarity concert towards the purchase of toys for 500 disabled children who are in the care of our establishments. These are special toys which, on the one hand, encourage children to play, when their disability may make it difficult for them to do so and, on the other, help children to develop their capabilities despite their disability and while living with their disability. Making a place in our world for children with different developmental needs is one of the “Solferinos” of our age.

For the French Red Cross, what does the support of a group such as SAFRAN represent?

First of all it means that we get backing for our initiatives. The concert on March 18 is an example of this. The economic model of the French Red Cross is precarious. It is not market-based. We are able to act thanks to private donations and financing deriving from the health and social policies of the Government. Where both these types of financing are concerned, the times are uncertain and belts are being tightened. Yet over and above the financial contribution, the contacts that we foster with the corporate world also help us to rethink the way in which our own model is conceived, so that we can bolster our financial independence and our capacity to act, in order to be better equipped to take on the challenges of tomorrow.