Friday, 19 December 2014

Disasterjunkie DJ emergency iPod Christmas chart run down

Hello readers!

Disasterjunkie DJ couldn't let Christmas go by without a festive top 12 chart run down, a hit for each of the 12 days of Christmas! So plug in to your emergency iPod, kick back and relax...(in between bouts of rushing around like a headless chicken of course....and spare a thought for those turkeys!). 

Top tip, click on the song titles to link through to the music videos. Enjoy! 

12. In at number 12 we have the magical 'Fairytale of New York' by the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl dedicated to all of you UN workers, who hang out in the environs of UN Plaza in Manhattan. I guess this tune rather conjures up the reality of your Christmas, no? 

11. Following close on its heels at number 11 we have 'It doesn't often snow at Christmas' by the Pet Shop Boys, a timely reflection on the recent inter-governmental talks in Lima. Climate change anyone? Anyone?

10. Frightened Rabbit brings you 'It's Christmas so we'll stop' at number 10. And just like rabbits in headlights, aid workers the world over will be running around as usual at Christmas, as we all know, disasters and complex emergencies have no sense of timing or convenience. Still its a nice sentiment....if only...

9. While at number 9, this a strange song by The Flaming Lips called 'Christmas at the Zoo' might just lift your spirits, which is about freeing animals from a zoo.  I dedicate this to all the aid workers, who are passionate about protecting the environment,  nature and wildlife alongside delivering community development activities. Also the imagery of animals wanting to remain in the zoo instead of being free is not is reminiscent of humanitarians, who know very well in their hearts they can come out of the aid business at any time, they are free to go, but never quite make that walk to freedom...away from the team tent.

8. For those of you who are working in conflict zones or face the challenges of working alongside an integrated mission, this one is especially for you, 'Stop the cavalry' by Jona Lewie. Timeless and very apt, it does what it says on the mess tin. 

7. Any Christmas chart run down would be incomplete without a big, fat, cheesy, glam rock anthem (no, forget Slade and Wizzard for once). In at number 7 is The Darkness and 'Christmas Time (don't let the bells end)' - about as camp as that fairy on top of your Christmas tree and featuring the obligatory children's chorus (wait...does that qualify as child labour?...sshhh don't tell UNICEF). The lyric 'You've got your career, spent the best part of last year apart and it still hurts...' might resonate with those of you in long distance relationships...

6.  ...As will this fabulous classic by The Pretenders, '2000 miles' at number 6. 2000 miles is indeed very far through the snow, as many of you are all too familiar with spending Christmas in foreign climes away from your loved ones, and especially those working on winterisation responses. This is a poignant recent rendition by the coolest of cool Chrissie Hynde

5. 'I feel it in my bones' by The Killers ft. Ryan Pardey, creeps in at number 5 with a rather sinister Santa Claus. (Trust me, you really wouldn't want this Santa checking his list twice to see if your name is on it). It's slightly PTSD trippy so be warned!

4. In at number 4 is 'Got something for you' by Best Coast and The Wavves. "Hey Baby, I've got somethings for you and I wanna tell you but you'll have to wait", sums up the dilemma aid workers face when carrying out relief distributions while needing to simultaneously Communicate with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC) to achieve that holy grail of Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP).

3. If 3 is your lucky number then so is this song, 'Everything's gonna be cool this Christmas' by the inimitable Eels. Don't you just love it?  I included it because I can and I love the Eels. 

2. At number 2 we have Ben Haenow (Hey now, hey now don't dream X-Factors over...) with 'Something I need', in honour of all of the disaster affected families around the world aid workers are working tirelessly to assist. If only needs assessments were this good. Sure as eggs is eggnog, Ben will be in the UK number 1 chart spot as the Syco promo goes into overdrive...but it's a memorable anthem nonetheless. 

1. For our Christmas number 1, let's hark back to olden times when 
members of The Beatles reigned supreme and here is John Lennon together with Yoko singing 'Happy Christmas (War is over)'. It needs no introduction really, it speaks for itself, as powerful and poignant today as the day it was released. Let it continue to be our dream  - an end to war, killing and suffering. We have the power in our hands to make a peaceful world, let it not slip through our fingers in 2015! 

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....

Happy Christmas everyone! 

Peace, love and light,

Bravo, Bravo, Charlie....out (until next year).


Monday, 15 December 2014

Disasterjunkie jargonbuster bovine excrement detectors

Hello readers!

Are you tired of the endless round of boring meetings that are positively overflowing with bovine excrement?  (I'm thinking cluster coordination meetings, strategic planning sessions, task forces, working groups, briefings for people who have no idea what humanitarian aid is or how to do it properly or just same old, same old weekly team meetings...).

Are you facing some difficulty in distinguishing between useful facts and abstract concepts or cliches that frankly have no real substance or meaning or ounce of practical application? Well, have no fear! Help is at hand. The mighty disasterjunkie jargonbuster will come to your rescue!

Some handy tools have been recently developed, without the aid of any IASC or UN led task force. You might feel inclined to try out any of these little beauties to help you:

The automatic bovine excrement meter

Small enough and discrete enough to put in your back pack or man bag, this handy little bovine excrement meter homes in on the whiffiest of deceptive ramblings. On detection it will sound an alarm, which will get louder and louder the nearer you are to the source, providing you with an audible excuse for a sharp exit . Think of it as your very own 'patnav'.

Disasterjunkie jargonbuster bovine excrement bingo card #1

In addition why not arm yourself with this bingo card? It's portable and colour coordinated to blend in to UN situations, if necessary. Not a 'legs eleven' or 'two fat ladies' in sight (on the card itself that is...but who knows who will be sitting next to you in your meeting?...). However, it might indeed be 'unlucky for some' if these terms crop up during proceedings and you end up crossing them off the card in quick succession and you shout "full house", ...try "transitional shelter" instead (it might be safer).

The bovine excrement reveal-and-neutralise spray

Next time you fill in a requisition form, why not add this item to your  emergency relief kit list? Remember that old adage "If it smells like BS and looks like BS (you can now add if it sounds like BS)...then its probably BS"? Well, so that you can be totally sure, one squib of this spray will give you the definitive answer as it instantly reveals the truth and it will then neutralise the troublesome terminology so you can happily get on with your day completely bovine excrement free!

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. 


Monday, 8 December 2014

Being the hummingbird's wings

Running to stand still

She runs through the streets
With eyes painted red
Under a black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway she brings me
White gold and pearls stolen from the sea
She is raging
She is raging
And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will
Suffer the needle chill
She's running to stand
The hamster wheel of life

Are you on a field mission where you are working frantically around the clock, fulfilling several roles or jobs all at once because there just aren’t enough bodies on the ground to help you set up an emergency response?  Or help you try out new projects or even maintain your already-existing projects in your ever-expanding response programme?  Do you feel like you are caught up in the hamster wheel of life, constantly running to stand still?

Well, you are not alone. It's an all-too-common situation for many of us humanitarian aidworkers when we have been released into the wild, our natural habitat (i.e. the field) or when we are held captive (apparently against our will) by our superiors in a head office environment.

There are several analogies out there to describe this and I will give you three of them. I wonder which one you identify with the most?

Hats off to you

Some  people call it double, triple or quadruple -hatting, which can affect the quality of leadership in senior humanitarian positions, (mentioned in this ICVA survey 2014 here.)  I find this analogy slightly strange because I’ve never actually worn several hats while doing emergency response, have you? I mean one has to travel light, and it could be quite uncomfortable wearing several garments at once, never mind looking decidedly odd.  Mind you I have seen plenty of aidworkers who do wear hats, especially those who have a penchant for wearing baseball hats…I mean really, what is that all about? You are not playing baseball, it is not a game, you are not even able to reach first base if you aren’t able to set up your emergency response quickly and effectively and save those lives are you? Neither are you a hip hop artist, or, dare I utter the immortal words Justin Bieber.

However, I do remember wearing a sun hat occasionally. Yes, I think sun hats probably qualify for aid worker gear in an arid zone or tropical environment when the sun beats down on your head and the back of your neck, while you are waiting for a delivery to come to an airstrip or you are trekking for miles in the mid-day sun doing an emergency assessment. I prefer buff hats myself, see an earlier post on the subject here. They really are quite versatile and they don’t look like your average safari hat as if you are some kind of tourist going into a disaster zone. Anyway I digress...

Well that was on hats and you might ponder the significance of hat-wearing in emergency response. However, on a related subject "Six Thinking Hats" could be a useful tool for you and your team.

Edward de Bono devised it and is a form of lateral thinking. It is a creative way of getting your team to work more effectively together by thinking in different ways to problem solve.

Swan lake

The second analogy is that well-known image of a graceful, beautiful swan gliding effortlessly across a lake or a river, hardly disturbing the surface of the water. Meanwhile, under the water, its little legs are going nineteen to the dozen to propel the swan along.

We don’t really see that level of frenetic activity when we are above the water but say if you are a newt, a frog or a fish, then you might just notice those webbed feet constantly kicking out! Well anyway that’s what I think aid workers are like (no, I don't mean pondlife), constantly and frenetically paddling. You can never be ahead of the game, you are always trying to catch up. There are always more needs than you can meet and more demands placed on you, from the organisation you are working for or from the beneficiary community you are working with. On top of that there are increasing pressures from other agencies and coordination structures,  (no, not another cluster meeting to go to I hear you cry!), or from the Kafkaesque levels of bureaucracy emanating from donors, who behave like a huge puppet master, pulling the strings of us marionettes to make us dance to their ever-complex accountability tunes. So yes, that analogy of being the swan's legs is quite a good one but now I want to introduce you to another one because I think it is more fun! 

Hummingbird's wings

The third analogy is being the hummingbird's wings. Are you aware of the excellent nature narrator called Randall? He is a comedic genius and his straight-talking voice overs for mini nature documentaries are a world away from the wonderful, softly spoken, measured, yet sensitive tones of Sir David Attenborough, (who I have a lot of respect for, by the way).

Randall pulls no punches in his vivid descriptions and I would love you to enjoy this video of a hummingbird, I selected especially for you, my readers, because I think you will be able to relate to it.

We all know that there is always way too much work to do and we will constantly be in this effervescent, effusive, form of activity in full on emergency response mode. You cannot see the hummingbird's wings move, because they are flapping at such a fast rate they are almost invisible to the naked eye. Yet, you know that without those wings, the hummingbird is not going to be able to fly around from flower to flower to suck out that delicious and nutritious nectar to keep it alive. That’s really what we are like as aidworkers. Our emergency programme will not survive to meet the needs of disaster affected populations if we were not there and fulfilling all of the double, triple and quadruple roles that are expected of us. So I hope you will take heart from this analogy. You are the hummingbird's wings and what magical things they are. Continue to be the hummingbirds wings and take flight!


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,


Monday, 1 December 2014

Washing in Wilderness 5 - suds up

Hello readers!

This Washing in Wilderness series attempts to share top tips and best practice in response to your personal hygiene challenges, while you are out in the field. Oh yes, really...

Past posts have explored unusual soap powder in East Africa, click here, and in the South Pacific, click here, and how you can make your household chores into an exciting extreme sport (for the adrenaline junkies amongst us), click here. And we also recently celebrated World Toilet Day here.

Keeping your clothes clean and fresh when you are out in the field can be tricky at the best of times. Don't let your mission become a soap opera. So, going back to soap powder, how about this little number? 

I wonder what the marketing and PR people were really thinking. You might think that they came up with this concept after a heavy night of pub crawling, but it is made by a company in Iran, so I am guessing this is unlikely. Still, imagine what your clothes and bedlinen would smell like? Take a nice deep breath in now! (On the other hand, don't!)

Send me your suggestions for weird and wonderful personal and household hygiene products that you have discovered on your travels via Twitter or Facebook!

Until next time, stay fresh ( you know what I mean)...

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

Monday, 24 November 2014

Things to do at airports 4

Hello readers!

You know those moments where you are waiting at the airport for your plane, when you are about to set off on your next mission or those times when you are returning home after your last one and you just don't know how to fill your time? 

Well, have no fear, this little series aims to fill you with inspiration so you will never experience a wasted moment in the 'no-persons-land'  of airport departures or arrivals again!

If I could take you back in time for a minute, the first post in this series showed what you could do on the travellator in between terminals or on your way to the gate here. The second revealed how to have some fun while in the queue at check-in here. The last post demonstrated just what you could do, if you were so inclined, while waiting for your luggage to be regurgitated at baggage reclaim here

So what next? Imagine you are at a large, international airport with your colleagues... and you are all a bit bored. Perhaps this video will give you some much needed inspiration (but top tip, make sure your head of mission is not with you at the time). 

Did you enjoy that? The possibilities are endless... I'd be interested to hear from you so please feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or connect with me on the Blondebombshell in Crises Facebook page here or Twitter here and tell me your favourites ways to prevent boredom at airports. 

Meanwhile, pass this on, spread the lurve people!

Peace, love and light,

B.B.C. xxx

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Washing in Wilderness 4 - Happy World Toilet Day!

"To pee or not to pee....that is the question..."

Hello readers,

Were you all aware that 19th November is World Toilet Day?  I wasn't until today. I say, what a delightful name for a universal day, which aims to raise awareness about all of those people, who do not have access to a toilet despite the basic human right to water and sanitation. To read all the details click here .

Did you know there are at least 101 alternative words for toilet? Yes indeed, I checked it out. Click here if you don't believe me. Some of my favourites are 'big white phone'(that sounds like something Lady Ga Ga would wear), 'house of ease' (...almost Spacey), 'thunder box' (...are go) and 'white hart room' (very GoT). 

What are your favourites? I would imagine if the word 'toilet' was replaced with some of the other alternatives on that list, such as 'Oval Office', 'London', 'Jericho' or 'The Vin', this would result in worldwide confusion at best or several international diplomatic incidents at worst! Imagine President Obama saying to the First Lady "I'm just going to the Oval Office honey" and Michelle replying "Well, don't forget to put the seat down afterwards." 

And let's not forget the well-intentioned gender specialists, who would probably insist on some further clarification so World Toilet Day would become the "Ladies, Gents, Little Boys'/Little Girls' and Transgendered Individuals' Room Day" for the sake of inclusion.

While the aim of World Toilet Day is indeed a commendable endeavour, as we aidworkers can quickly relate to the awkward experience of being caught short on many occasion in the field, I find the strapline calling for action "Say thank you to your toilet on World Toilet Day" slightly disturbing, don't you? No? Maybe its just me then...

As if we aidworkers don't have enough to do and now we have to go around talking to inanimate objects and holes in the ground! Whose bright idea was that? (I'm guessing some UN-ocrat in New York or, of course not, it must have been an entire task team). Anyway, how does one address a latrine or lavatory for example? Are there any IASC guidelines on best practice and terminology e.g. Communicating With Your Toilet? Honestly, its enough to drive you round the U-bend.

I wonder what would happen if the toilets talked back? Would there be a twitter feed inviting loos to 'join the conversation' on the World Toilet Day website?

This could open up a whole new world of toilet humour. Once latrines have found their respective voices, there will be no going back. There will be no escape....not even off duty. You have been warned.

On that note, just like loo paper, Blonde Bombshell in Crises is on a roll and will end this post here...wouldn't want it to go down the pan... 

However, B.B.C would be interested to hear from you so please feel free to drop her a line in the comments below, or connect on the Blondebombshell in Crises Facebook page here or Twitter here .
Meanwhile, pass this on, spread the lurve people!

Peace, love and light,

B.B.C. xxx

Monday, 17 November 2014

Disasterjunkie DJ's emergency ipod: For Humanity's Sake

Hello readers!

Disasterjunkie DJ here sharing with you the latest tune on my emergency iPod. 

Introducing you to Nahko and Medicine for the People ...

I picked this song especially for you, I think it will touch your heart and be food for your soul, it's called "For Humanity's Sake" and you can watch Nahko Bear and Hope Medford vibing below:

And for those of you who want to dive into those powerful and inspiring lyrics, here they are:

For Humanity's Sake

I hold my breath,
I hold my breath,
Have my head above the water,
Have my arms in by my side,
I swear that I'm not drowning,
I've been provided for this time,
Swim through my conditions, 
Integrate my train of thought,
With emancipation I'm learning to tie knots.

I hold my breath,

I hold my breath, 
For humanity's sake, 
For the way we hold the space, 
For every colour, every race or political taste,
Each repeated mistake, 
What a habit, what a waste,
To take, take, take more than you need,
An unconscious thing,
Many have been silenced,
But I have come to sing.

Soon to exhale,

Soon to set sail, 
There are men who cast their nets,
In search of purpose and respect, 
Comin' back with empty nests,
Forgotten all their privileges, 
I watch them pass on the sidewalk, 
I drink my coffee, write my thoughts, 
Check the weather, check my watch, 
I'm waitin' for the sun to drop,
So I can start a fire and signal all the plain, 
The world's about to shift again and we'll never be the same.

We ought take things far more personal,

Oh what do we stand for and is it salvageable.

What songs mean the most to you when you are travelling to and from mission, or when you are out in the field, or hanging out with team mates in your team house? I'd love to hear from you. Connect with me via the comment box below, or on my Twitter page here or Facebook page here.

Keep on hummin', keep on strumming  and keep on vibing! 

Peace, love and light, 

B.B.C. xxx

Monday, 10 November 2014

One Love and the Unified Field.

"One love! One heart!
Let's get together and feel alright.
Hear the children cryin' (One love!)
Hear the children cry in' (One heart!)
Sayin: Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel alright, 
Sayin: Let's get together and feel alright."

- Bob Marley

Well hello there readers!

Just when you thought it was safe...the Blonde Bombshell in Crises is back on the blog and ready to shake up the status quo of the humanitarian world. Fasten your seat belts, this is going to be one hell of a ride from now on. I hope you have your quick run kit at the ready...

This post follows on from another post I did a while ago called “The DAO of UNDAF” in which I talked about the Delivering As One agenda of the United Nations system based on a couple of my experiences on mission to the UN in two different countries of the world. So feel free to take a look at that if you haven't already. 

While I was listening to tunes on my iPod the other day, I was struck by the powerful lyrics of Bob Marley’s song “One Love” and I found myself reflecting on the foundations of the United Nations (as you do). So my mind took a meandering trip (without psychotropic help, just in case you were wondering ...) over to that bed rock of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and various other human rights instruments that member states have signed up to and ratified. The UDHR is a very noble venture because it provides a perceived shared set of values to work with and something to strive for. You and I know there are many people and organisations out there trying to strive for these human rights to be realised. Why? Because they give each of us a sense of our own identity, while belonging to the wider human race, that in essence we are equal and respected, our rights will be respected, our needs met, we will be safe and protected from the very worst aspects of our human condition and can look forward to a future where every person has enough. Yet, you and I also know that the reality on the ground in humanitarian crises and disaster response is very different, that although rights are there and legal instruments are in place, people still get violated and war and injustices are an everyday occurrence. We are far from equal.

Thinking about this, I find it quite ironic that the very structures set up to unite the world around common platforms of rights and action, do, in fact the opposite.  The concept of the 'United Nations' has the effect of reinforcing the separateness of each country by national boundaries. This emphasises a separateness of identity and sets nations apart and their peoples as 'The Other'. That is why, when you get a massive outbreak of conflict and multiple violations of human rights occur, the United Nations ends up being rendered a large, ungainly, blundering creature dragging its knuckles on the ground...

...rendered inert when it matters most.  For example on the Security Council, certain member states are perceived to have more power and more decision making clout than others and, therefore, can veto ways forward for the common good, leading to an awkward stalemate, more weeping, wailing and gnashing of political teeth, then there is an insipid compromise. Delay after delay stacks against timely, appropriate and incisive action. (Gosh this is turning into a rather downbeat post isn't it, sorry about that gets better though so please read on.)

So I’m just putting it out there for you that there is a huge irony in this situation we have. We put human rights instruments and the UN up there on their glittering pedestals when in fact they are just re-enforcing the social and political construct of our separateness. Our reality is very different however and I shall explain.

At the same time as listening to Bob, I became aware of another synchronicity that is directly relevant. I saw this picture on the Facebook page of Nassim Harramein

To me this is a powerful picture. What the world sees at ground level, from media, politics, education, social conditioning etc is the picture on the left. A world of flags depicting a colourful multitude of clubs, where people belong to one or two of the clubs but not all of them, adding weight to the concept of separateness and "The Other". This plays into the media programming of fear, 'we must fear the other, there are not enough resources to go around, so we must take our national interests first and put them up front at all costs and trample on everyone else'. In contrast, taking a view from space you can’t see the national boundaries, the world looks like one, unified, beautiful, colourful, intact and seamless planet. There is no separateness. 

Nassim Harramein is a scientists in the field of quantum physics and specifically resonance. Check out his webpage The Resonance Project and if you want to hear more about is take a few moments to watch this video interview conducted by Lilou Mace. His Unified Field Theory and applications thereof are mind-blowing, paradigm-shifting and world changing. 

The fact is we are so small, the universe is bigger than all of us and (and inside us too as Nassim has proved mathematically that the entire mass of the universe is also contained within a single proton). We are all passing through and connected to each other and to everything else in the universe. The planet doesn’t belong to us. We belong to the planet, we are integral parts of the earth, each other, every living being and vibrating object and the universe. So why on earth are we wasting our time killing each other, stealing resources and destroying the planet under the grand fearful illusion that there is not enough to go around and that The Others will get there first. For me that image above is the embodiment of Bob Marley’s song "One Love".  We are one love, we are one heart, so let's get together and feel alright, yeah?  I’ll just leave you with that thought for now. 

What are your views on oneness? 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.

Ta very muchly for reading and if you liked this, pass it on....spread the lurve and joy and grow the tribe. 

Peace, love and light,


Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Disasterjunkie DJ's emergency ipod: Something for November 5th...

Hello readers!

Happy Guy Fawkes Day/Night everyone! It's nice to celebrate failure now and again isn't it? Poor Mr. Fawkes, I mean, as far as revolutionaries go, this guy was on fire...

While Russell Brand and Anonymous are calling for revolution,
(see the Million Mask March,today). I thought it appropriate to play you revolutionary tune.

Here is T-Rex and Children of the Revolution. So mask up, put your glam boots on and rock out to this...(and if you can do that while peacefully protesting for truth, justice and freedom from oppression, even better...)

Join the tribe and connect with me on Facebook here or Twitter here.
Spread the love, peace and light people! 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Return of the Blondebombshell....

Ta Dah! I'm back. Did you miss me? 

I just want to apologise to all of you readers out there for my absence from my blogsite these past few months. I’ve been away for a while. You know how things are at times. Life is not a straight line. Things come along that you just have to deal with...

Well,  I've now been able to reach a point where I can unleash my creativity on you all once again...look out world...On that note I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to comment on blog posts or if you’d like to engage with me on my Facebook page then click here or on my Twitter page click here. I dare you to give me some suggestions on the humanitarian or development issues you’d like me to explore! Come on people, get creative.  

For now thanks every so much for reading the Blonde Bombshell in Crises (b.b.c.) journey so far. Do get in touch, keep reading and spread the word by Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or however you like.

Let's grow this tribe!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Blondebombshellincrises is on Twitter

Hello readers!

Blondebombshellincrises has joined twitter. Check out the link and follow and please retweet if you like it.