Typhoon Haiyan and making Tacloban a safer place

Living in Asia these past couple of years has taught me a thing or two about extreme weather conditions. I have ‘lived through’ Typhoons Kaitak and Usagi. Whether a typhoon is described as mild, violent or exceptionally powerful as was the case of Haiyan, they are all terrifying when your home and family are being ‘attacked’ by the uncontrollable forces of nature.

In Tacloban, Philippines, they received the full force of Haiyan and you can follow the death and destruction on many global TV stations. But what happens a few days, weeks or months after a disaster occurs? How much relief actually gets through?

Well, if you’re my family doctor and good friend, Dr. Sue Jamieson, you buy 500,000 Hong Kong Dollars worth of vaccines, antibiotics and medicines and get on a plane to Manilla and on a military flight from Manilla to Tacloban to start vaccinating thousands of people against airborne diseases.

But don’t take my word for it, follow the link and watch Sue tell her own story in a short 2 minutes and read her blog and website about the trip to Tacloban.

What do YOU do when there’s a disaster in the world? For starters, you can sit back and thank your lucky stars that it wasn’t you! But, you can also help the people on the ground, from the comfort of your own home, through your donation. The suffering for many, only starts AFTER a typhoon has subsided and the devastation is understood. You can help Dr. Sue Jamieson pay for vaccinations, medicine and antibiotics by making a donation to:

Dr. Sue Jamieson
HSBC Hong Kong, 1 Queens Rd Central
Account no 083-537894-833
SWIFT code (no BIC needed) HSBCHKHHHKH
PAYPAL UNDER ‘drsuej@gmail.com’

Thank You!

Storm in a Teacup

I’ve been in Hong Kong for just over two months and I’ve already weathered quite a few storms. T3’s become T8’s and if you’re unlucky, they become T10’s like Typhoon Vicente, which hit us last month and with a force unknown since 1999. Last night, I lived through the latest typhoon. Whilst I realise that I’m known for stirring things up a bit, I don’t know whether to be flattered or not; the latest typhoon is named after me, Kai-tak (Helen). When a T8 is hoisted, the city can easily ‘close down’. There may be no public transport, schools close, the public is advised to stay indoors or at home and businesses remain firmly shut. When you’re sitting in the comfort of your own home, oblivious to the elements however, it all just seems like ‘a storm in a teacup’.

CSR and doing good is something I’m passionate about and let me assure you, that there’s a lot more good out there than you’d ever imagine. Whether it’s the work of individuals, small organisations or large multinationals, people are joining forces to make waves and improve life experiences. I’ve now been working at Cisco in Hong Kong for about 6 weeks and I’m starting to settle in. Yesterday, I had an inspiring conversation with our head of corporate affairs in Greater China, TC Hsi. TC shared what Cisco is doing around CSR and quite honestly I’m blown away. Besides all the Cisco volunteers doing great work in the community and the focus and determination of the corporate teams, I was pleasantly surprised to hear how Cisco is using its own technology to help disaster victims weather the storm.

When a major emergency such as an earthquake or hurricane strikes, response organizations require immediate communications support to save lives, establish relief operations and provide ongoing assistance in affected communities. Cisco’s Tactical Operations (TacOps) team can quickly deploy IP-based communications to support emergencies. This team comprises expert networking, radio communications, and systems engineers along with logistics and operations coordinators. Members of the team and the employee-volunteer Disaster Incident Response Team (DIRT) are trained in the U.S. National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) and they participate in large-scale exercises to validate technology solutions and train alongside other responders.

Our world is changing. Our climate is changing and many more natural disasters are forecast in the coming years than we’ve ever had before. This is a fact and no ‘storm in a teacup’. So, whilst I’m currently safe and well and settling in to a new home and a new job, it’s comforting to know that my new employer can help when it’s really necessary. Cisco, you make me proud!