I don't use plastic bags. I've given up plastic drinking straws.
I recycle just about anything I can think of. I spread
the word, courtesy of my blog, plus kind folks who share my articles on social media.
But none of these things change the whole world in a positive way. The problem is too big, the efforts too small.
Millions of refugees flee the devastation caused by man’s inhumanity to their fellow men, women and children. Reports of endless and horrific cruelty surface daily, shocking scenes of ultimate pain for no reason except where the unfortunates were born.
This week is a painful one to try and feel optimism, knowing how many millions suffer in other countries. There's some guilt attached, questioning how all we know is the numbers...that few of us can possibly imagine the pain of others as they struggle to escape from misery and loss too big for most of us even to imagine.
What I can imagine though, is the very basic things that must be hell on earth...not having food and clean water for yourself or your children, not having a home, and most basic, how on earth would you handle the business of toileting where there are no toilets, and thousands of people in the same environment?
Calling all hams!
Hams don't depend on any new technology. They've been fiddling around with various wires and antennae rigs for many decades, back to the 1920's. They talk to each other, nationally, internationally, and even into space. In emergencies they are incredibly useful and comforting, and as we’ve seen, in chaotic situations like the present in Puerto Rico, they can provide the only life saving and reporting links.
Hams are licensed operators. They pass exams. They're not just a bunch of hobbyists, indeed they're considered a valued service by governments. In a situation like the Puerto Rico disaster they work, sometimes the only ones who can work from afar, relaying messages from the disaster area to loved ones, and keep on top of events in real time. Their tried and true equipment doesn't get compromised like wifi connections, and other modern technology.
Where are they?
There are about 100 hams on the Sunshine Coast. One of these heroes, Bob Biggart, lives right next door to us. The neighborhood totally supports the large antennae he has constructed, and it certainly is so comforting to know he, his expertise and his ham colleagues are always ready to go with emergency services, anywhere in the world.
I'll be introducing you to Bob in next week’s edition here, as he answers questions about the role of the ham radio operator, and about emergencies in general.
Meantime, heartfelt thoughts go to the families who've been so severely impacted by these massive natural disasters.