If Alison Thompson has a mantra, surely it is "You can count on me. I'll help." Growing up at the edge of the Australian bush, Thompson often accompanied her parents, a nurse and a preacher, on their humanitarian missions. Her adventuresome spirit and willingness to help would later become a way of life for her. She moved to New York City and worked in various capacities --- as an investment banker, a math teacher and a filmmaker.
"The author's courage, dedication and unflagging willingness to help wherever and whenever is an inspiration."
Thompson's life-changing journey began on September 11, 2001, when she rollerbladed toward Ground Zero. That day she gave basic first aid and encouragement, and spent eight months immersed in the rescue/recovery/volunteer efforts there. Her only credential was her willingness to help. At Ground Zero she overcame her fear of death.
Her next humanitarian adventure began when she and her boyfriend, Oscar, left New York City with $300 and a few medical supplies to spend two weeks assisting tsunami victims in the remote village of Piraliya in Sri Lanka. They ended up staying 14 months, assembling a ragtag team of volunteers and unofficially began helping. The task was monumental. Potable water, food, emergency medical care, and basic shelter were just the absolute essentials needed. Thompson sought out people who could help, and her group raised funds and begged for supplies. The humanitarian efforts produced an early warning tsunami system and the rebuilding of a school. Thompson made sure the video camera was filming whenever possible, and the edited result of hundreds of hours of tape created The Third Wave, her important documentary about the tsunami and the relief efforts.
In 2010, the earthquake in Haiti caused a massive loss of life and destruction. Once again Thompson was on the front lines. Her impressive documentary had created a lot of useful publicity. Now she had connections, people like actor and activist Sean Penn, with whom she came to work. With funding and other important resources available, Thompson, Penn and their team helped build and run a camp for displaced persons, as well as a much-needed hospital.
The author's courage, dedication and unflagging willingness to help wherever and whenever is an inspiration. She heartily encourages us to help in any way we can. As she well knows, the smallest act of assistance, multiplied and repeated many times over, can truly make a difference in the lives of others.
Reviewed by Carole Turner on July 12, 2011
The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story