One man's mission
Galvanized by images of the disaster, Sam Schultz bought a plane ticket, hired a boat and crew, and was soon sailing down Indonesia's Sumatran coast to help survivors.
For several hours, the vessel has coasted alongside a mist-kissed rainforest - a paradise stained at its base by a 30-foot-high ring of barren earth.
"This is unbelievable," says Mr. Schultz, a onetime Californian who has lived in Bali for 20 years. "A month ago, this was a shoreline of thriving communities, boats, villages, and fishermen. Now ... nothing."
Schultz is a regular guy: husband, father of two, businessman, history buff. But the cargo on his boat - buckets filled with hammers and saws, stacks of corrugated roofing, food, and toys - tells the story of how the steely housing contractor, galvanized by the devastation on TV - transformed himself into a kind of archangel of aid. A veteran of aid missions - East Timor, Guatemala, Nepal - he says the current need is "greater than any I have seen in our lifetimes."
"This is one of the really amazing stories of how people from all kinds of organizations all over the world have come together to come up with unusual solutions ... to fill immediate needs," says Bettina Luescher, spokeswoman in Banda Aceh for the World Food Program, the largest provider of food relief in the world. "These people are the crucial link at the crucial stage, doing what the larger organizations are just not yet set up to do."
The Man of Lettuce drives a taxi in Australia. The following describes a passenger on furlough from Phuket, Thailand.
(Thanks to The Swanker for the link.)
He was the principal of a major Australian funeral company who had the task of delivering European fatalities back home from the Asian tsunami. Without any government approaches or contract submissions, he had immediately offered his services and expertise as a private businessman, for cost only.
Working out of a refrigerated facility at Phuket airport he was washing, dressing and airfreighting the cadavers back to Europe.
"Mate", I exclaimed, "that's fantastic, good on you." "Yeah," he drawled, "someone has to do it. It's my contribution to the relief effort."
... he was dealing with bodies which had undergone death by trauma, and been in the sun or water for days, weeks even. Only last week the news reported bodies still being recovered at the rate of 1000 per day.
"Aren't they pretty knocked around though?", I wondered. "Yeah", he replied, once again with a dismissive shrug of the shoulders, "but you don't worry about it too much. I mean, the adults have had a drink and a root - they've lived. It's the little ones - the kids, some only three months old which is really tough."
And here his voice trailed off.
Do read both in full. Some people are truly inspiring.
And some are friends.
Friends of the Quizmaster, DJ, are cordially invited to D's Place in Kemang for a DJ Testimonial Quiz on Saturday starting, hopefully, at 7pm. There's a big screen for football fans, although Chartton don't seem to have a game.
DJ is currently in Newcastle awaiting a session or three of radio-therapy. Word is that he could be back in three months. Til then, see you Saturday?
This has been a public service announcement.
And the following isn't:
Did you know that there at least 22 different ways to lace an average shoe?