Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Yesterday I was accused of being an

"ambulance chaser" - because I had left a "tweet" on the time-line of a journalist about Australia's aid contribution to the latest disaster in the Philippines. I hasten to add that it was not the journalist who accused me. She knows better than that.
The person who accused me does not know me at all. I have never met him. He apparently based his response on that one tweet. It gave him an opportunity, or so he thought, to make a derogatory comment about the government's contribution. I can only assume he votes for the opposing forces. I may be wrong.
I was tempted to try and continue the "conversation" with him and point out he was wrong but I did not have the time and it might well have made matters worse.
What started it all though was a misunderstanding about the way in which governments give aid. What had been announced was "an initial payment of $380,000". The tweeter was up in arms. How dare we give such a paltry amount to a country which needed so much?
He ignored the "initial" of course. It suited him to do that. What would have happened would have been contact at high level between the two countries. Someone would have asked someone else what was most urgently needed right then. The cost would have been sorted out and whatever it was would have been made available as fast as possible. It could have been something as simple as asking an available aircraft to do a fly over and assess the damage. I don't know what it was this time but it will have been something that was urgently needed to get the relief effort under way.
And that is where other people come in. I am a very tiny part of what happens. I don't chase ambulances. I don't chase work. I don't need to. Work chases me. I don't work for a specific organisation. I do work for specific people and they will put other people in touch with me. If someone approaches me independently then they need someone I know and trust to vouch for them. 
Why? I don't get paid for what I do and I don't work for people who do get paid. I work for people who volunteer and they have to be professional at what they do. Many people I work with are actually professionals. They are doctors, dentists, engineers, architects, hydrologists, biologists and other experts in their fields. There are also builders - builders of all sorts of things. They are part of a vast network most people are completely unaware of.
Depending on what has happened they might get a room somewhere in which to catch a few hours sleep. It is more likely they will be sleeping in a tent and, when they eat, they will be eating cold baked beans or tuna straight from the tin. They may not stay very long. They will go in and do the job they went to do and then leave again. More often than not they will have paid their own expenses to get there and taken some of their annual leave to do it.
I'll happily help people who are willing to do that. They don't chase ambulances. They don't need to or want to. 
Since that "initial $380,000" the Australian government has offered another $10m in aid but that will not be an end to it. There will be more down the line as the situation settles and the money can actually be used as it is intended to be used.
It is not a simple business. It is immensely complex. I wish I could tell the person who "tweeted" that the people who really get involved are not "amateurs" and they don't have time to chase ambulances.

1 comment:

Old Kitty said...

That's the thing with instant commenting now so in vogue in all social media and news sites. It's so easy to leave a comment, tweet etc without any thought or care because such things are instant!

I know this is not on the same par but I follow an animal rescue site - normally the comments are mild and benign but someone left a comment saying how enraged she was that her parents were refused an animal to adopt for x reason. Suddenly there came a deluge of other people saying how disgusted they were that this animal rescue group turned this person's parents down etc. It was quite absurd. It was if the experience and standards of this rescue group amounted to nothing and that their refusal was perhaps based on their vast experience of animal care. Absurd.

Take care