Sunday, 26 June 2011

Disasterjunkie DJ's emergency ipod

Hello readers! I'm here again. Did you miss me? I've just begun a new mission and you can read about my exploits on a fellow blogspot called Tall Tales from Windy Corner if you like.

Meanwhile I thought I'd introduce to you a new concept - Disasterjunkie DJ's emergency ipod. You know how you can look back over your life's experiences and remember things vividly when a song is played which reminds you of a certain time, a certain place and situation?

Well I wondered what songs a disaster soundtrack might include.

Here's a starter for 10.

  1. Rescue me - Fontella Bass
  2. I will survive - Gloria Gaynor
  3. Somethings happening here - Buffalo Springfield
  4. Fire with fire - Scissor Sisters
  5. Mothers of the disappeared - U2
  6. S.O.S - ABBA
  7. Help! - The Beatles
  8. Stayin' alive - The Bee Gees
  9. Stand and deliver - Adam and the Ants
  10. Bridge over troubled water - Simon and Garfunkel
What would your choices be?

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Damzel in De-stress

Hello readers!

I have been reflecting on the process of preparing for missions, the times in between and why it is so hard for me to relax. Also I wonder why it is that after years and years of traipsing from one mission to another I still manage to leave packing to the eleventh hour? Maybe packing items and clothing into a suitcase is symbolic of making order out of chaos...resist...resist...resist...

Anyway I then started reflecting on the good old concept of R&R - that elusive but all important rest and recuperation or rock and roll (I prefer the latter) many of us humanitarians are urged to take but hardly ever do until we are almost on the brink of leaping of the cliff of sanity like unsuspecting lemmings into the watery depths.

How do you chillax? Do spill the beans. And I thought to myself, wouldn't it be great if we could crack managing stress in the field during our missions instead of teetering on the edge of said cliff? Perhaps we could get some help.  Like from masseurs sans frontiers (m.s.f), now they would come in very handy...

.... or from the International Rescue-remedy Corporation (i.r.c) or Scented Candles UK (s.c. uk) or Action Contre la Fatigue (a.c.f)..... Guaranteed to reach the parts other agencies can't reach. Get the picture? We could introduce a separate CERF to resource a pilot project - the Common Emergency-worker's Relaxation Fund as a risk reduction measure to prevent a one way trip to burn out street. Or we could have less of the 'flash' appeal and more of a 'flow' appeal as in a universal plea to 'go with the', but hey, it's just a dream for now......mmmm dream interpretation.....another thought...
I'd like to hear from you so feel free to comment below or on the Blondebombshell in Crises Facebook page here or Twitter here.

For now, thanks for reading and if you liked this, pass it on....

Peace, love and light,

Bravo, Bravo, Charlie...out...(for now) xxx

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A new business model

Hello readers,

In the last few years there has been a lot of talk (and some action) on reforming the way the humanitarian world works under the umbrella 'humanitarian reform'. Some say humanitarianism has become a business and beneficiaries can be thought of as clients. Baroness Valerie Amos, the UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator is keen to usher in a new business model to ensure that we change the way in which aid is delivered as we prepare for and adapt to increasingly dangerous disaster environments while ensuring efficiency, quality and accountability. This is indeed a commendable aspiration to work towards. And I welcome this.  But where does one start?  I'm sure you will join with me in saying "Won't you come on over and stop making a fool out of me, Valerie......" and show us how its done? Here's a little Ode to Val.

But, I ask you, can humanitarians themselves be reformed? This is no mean feat.  Aren't we all too soft to be business sharks? I remember attending a Peace Support Operations workshop a few years ago along with a few other humanitarians and officers of the army, navy and air force who called us "a load of bunny huggers" . This concept puzzled me somewhat as I struggled to see the relevance of bunny hugging as I have never caught site of a rabbit in any disaster zone I have ever worked in. Conflict tends to wipe out local wildlife or, alternatively, animals regarded as domestic pets in one country could well end up as street food in another....alas I digress.

Talking of Barons (or rather Baroness to be gender sensitive), I wonder what the mogul Baron Alan Sugar would make of budding humanitarian apprentices trying to compete in the cut-throat world of business?

Imagine having to present a new business model for humanitarian aid on The Apprentice.  No doubt a successful business case will need to be original, meet demand in the market, outrun competitors and produce a healthy profit margin.

Perhaps something like this startling example of downward accountability!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Top ten aidworker essentials

Hello readers! 

I posted this chart run down list on an aid workers web forum many many moons ago but I think it could be still relevant today.

10. Extra toilet paper - you never know when you might need it. 

9. NGO T-shirt - to facilitate bonding between clones of aidworkers. 

8. Desert boots or Teva sandals - soooo fashionable in the bush. 

7. Maglite torch - to throw light on any crisis including a midnight dash to the pit latrine. 

6. That waistcoat - you know, the one with all the pockets (making anoraks look hip). 

5. Cargo pants - more pockets in case you don't have enough to hide BP5 biscuits in above waistcoat. 

4. Leatherman or Swiss Army knife - something to fiddle with when stressed out. (Which type are you?)

3. Handheld VHF radio and corresponding call sign - the must-have accessory to make you feel important, (remember to keep it on even in meetings). 

2. Shades - the all round reflective kind so that nobody sees you dozing off in coordination meetings. 

1. Aid-workers arm - one arm a slightly darker tan than the other due to hanging it out of the window of your Toyota or Nissan 4 by 4 in the sunshine.

If you have any interesting updates I would like to hear from you.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Disasterjunkie jargonbuster 2 - Camp coordination

Here we have another term that is used a lot in the field, camp coordination. But what does it mean? There could be several meanings but here is my favourite. Let's break it down.  According to the Oxford online English Dictionary

Camp - ... (of a man or his manner) ostentatiously and extravagantly effeminate

Coordination - the organisation of the different elements of a complex body or activity so as to enable them to work together effectively: an important managerial task is the control and coordination of activities

So putting them together we get extravagantly ostentatious and effeminate organisation and control of activities.

Ta Da!!

And who better to explain to us exactly what this entails but technical experts Julian Clary and Eddie Izzard?

For a start we all know that effective coordination requires strong leadership skills. In this video Julian points out the key characteristics of leadership that he thinks are particularly attractive.

And here we have Eddie Izzard regaling us with the lessons learnt, from a historical perspective, on how not to organise food distributions. 

So I hope these snippets will be of use to you on the ground. Carry on 'camping' !

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Humanitarian Haute Couture - 1

A month on from the Royal Wedding and tongues are still wagging about the right Royal haute couture that graced the aisle of Westminster Abbey. Who could forget Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, promoting fine, if eccentric British specimens on their heads?

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice
In a recent TV news debate I heard one cruel reporter referring to Princess Beatrice's hat as a, and I quote, 'portable loo seat' or, shock, horror 'a pair of falopian tubes'. After getting back on my chair, I started to think about humanitarian fashion and wondered if it is possible to have multi-purpose clothing and accessories that look chic, (cough cough), stylish, (splutter) and yet serviceable. What do you think?

Princess Beatrice flogged her hat on e-bay for charity for at least £80k and I wonder who bought it? A humanitarian agency could have made use of it I suppose, one never knows when one needs to have a portable loo seat on long journeys into the bush which could also double up as a handy visual aid for reproductive health education!