The paradox at the core of the Red Cross Red Crescent is that it is, simultaneously, an ideal and an institution. The myths that surround it are as potent in their infl uence as the impact that comes from what it does in practice. The Red Cross was born from the noblest of intents. But it is fated to operate in the basest of circumstances where the worst cruelties of man and nature are manifested. It is perceived as a global public good but its real benefi t is ultimately realized at an individual level. It has been costed as one of the most valuable brands in the world but the actual value of its work defi es meaningful quantifi cation. The physical symbols and structures of the Red Cross Red Crescent are seen in countless neighbourhoods across the world, but its invisible presence in the hearts and minds of people is what really sustains it.