Monthly Archives: January 2010

Hell in Haiti

25 January 2010

I received an email purporting to be circulating a letter from a woman working as a first responder in Haiti, written to her parents in Australia.  The letter, below, is quite moving.  After investigating the authenticity of the letter, I decided to reproduce it on my blog.

The author’s name is Alison Thompson.  An Australia native, Thompson first went to New York City as an investment banker, but then went to film school at NYU and became an independent film maker.  





Alison Thompson

LA Splash
(below, at link for  The Third Wave)


Thompson first became involved in relief work after the 9-11 attacks in New York City. According to Huffington Post, on September 11, 2001, she rollerbladed to the World Trade Center with a paramedic kit and became a first responder rescue worker.

Then, in 2004 as she was watching news footage of the aftermath of the Tsunami, she felt compelled to go and help in Sri Lanka. 

Established Relief agencies were not interested in people without special skills or training, so Ms. Thompson showed up and just started to help on her own.

She and her team became go-to persons for others who also showed up to help.  The site where she began her work became Peraliya refugee camp.  She and a team of four others stayed and ran it for fifteen months. 

She filmed an independent documentary about her experience in Sri Lanka, entitled The Third Wave.  For her work in Sri Lanka, she is scheduled to be the recipient of a 2010 Medal of the Order of Australia award, for her "service to humanitarian aid, particularly the people of the Peraliya region of Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami."


The letter she writes on 24 January 2010 reveals some of the horror as well as the hope of what is happening in Haiti.  It reminds us to pray not only for the people of Haiti, for also the rescue workers and others who are helping the people, and for the future for all of them.

Hi mum and dad –

I won’t be around when they announce my award on January 26th. I am with Sean Penn, diana jenkins, Oscar and 15 doctors embedded in the 82 airbourne ( USA) Dante would describe it as hell here. There is no food and wAter and hundreds dying daily. The aid is all bottlenecked and not reaching here . The other day i assisted with amputation ( holding them down) while they used a saw to cut a young boys leg off with no pain killers. Today I went with a strike force and army patrol in hummers into the streets and walked 5 miles through the camps set up on every street corner ..sewage and bodies stench is everywhere. As i attend to a patient 30 people crowd around me and it’s hard to breath. I nearly fainted today as the sewage smell went straight down my throat. I went white and dizzy but couldn’t sit down as sewage is running through the streets. There is much infection and it feels like the job is too big. No antibiotics anywhere. Good news, today our new york doctors evacuated 18 patients with spinal injuries out to miami and we’re all so excited. Our mash unit is in the 82 air base overlooking a refugee camp of over 50000 people. The refugees start singing Christian songs at 4 am and line up for food until the army hands it out at 8 am ( thats if there is any food) On the first night I was in the nearby jungle camping under the stars with my team and woke up to the beautiful music drawing me to them. I thought it was a church and we went to find it and came across the 82 airbourne camp and the refugee camp.( that’s how we ended up here) as it wasn’t safe to stay where we were even though we had our own security force. We are totally self suffient with food gas and medicines and have a private donor (Diana Jenkins who was a refugee in camps in Bosnia as a child – her family died of starvation in the camps. ) Sean Penn is here purely as a volunteer and is cutting through bureaucracy to get aid moving and food water and medicines to the people. There is no agenda but to save lives. Helicopters fly over head and it feels like vietnam. That night 50,000 people sung me to sleep and they sing every night for the world to save them. There is always hope but she’s not here right now.

Alison xxx

My writing is a mess as it’s on iPhone and keeps changing my words and the generator is on for a few hours but I know it’s important to tell the world. Please send to any press who may call or family and friends.


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Filed under News and politics

The Internet and My Blog

24 January 2010

Wow, I think January 31st marks the fourth year of my writing in this blog!  It’s amazing how I have changed, and also how my writing has changed. Now I have three other blogs that I am responsible for, as well.  Now that I am no longer living in China, I only write in this blog when I am writing about things pertaining to China or that I think will be of interest to my Chinese friends.  And recipes.  😀 

For a link to my very first blog entry ever, click HERE.  In those days, I could not yet put the pictures inside the copy of the blog, I could only attach them all at the end.  I think it’s much better when I include the photos inside the story. 

Well, the hot news these days is all about Google. 

I wonder about the sanity last week of Google’s throwing down the gauntlet.  I think it was a very American thing to do, and not necessarily the right thing to do. Given the cultural requirement of saving face, Google has virtually ensured the ending of its courtship with China. 

The de facto escalation of conflict by figuratively speaking throwing water in the face of powerful leaders can lead to nothing but rebuke, face saving bluster, and corresponding "I win/you lose" posturing.  Surely Google knew this.  Or were the Americans so ethnocentric in their self righteousness that they failed to consult their Chinese brothers?

Too bad.  I believe that complete withdrawal will cause significant hardship for ordinary citizens who rely on Google as an information source.  Google’s search results are so much more comprehensive since its crawlers go all over the world.  Better than other sources of information even if imperfect. 

But sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. 

For another interesting and more culturally sensitive treatment, check out this great film, Fighting the War of Internet Addiction (Wang Yin Zhan Zheng, 网瘾战争). 

Here’s link to Tudou (no subtitles):

The YouTube version, which has English language subtitles, is here: 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 Part 4

 Part 5

Part 6 

Part 7


Filed under News and politics

Waging Peace: Thank You Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

18 January 2010

This video combining footage from the civil rights movement with Dr. King’s "I have a dream" speech with music from Sarah McLachlan is amazing and beautiful.  Enjoy … and be inspired! 



I think there’s a common misperception that confuses peacemaking with cowardice.  Perhaps that’s because the common notion of "keeping peace" can include avoiding confrontation.  But faking peace is different from making peace. 

Making peace, waging peace, is active not passive.  It requires vision to know the truth and courage to meet the iniquity head on.  Those who step outside social norms to confront oppression know that they risk not only public censure or jail, but even death and torture. 

There is nothing cowardly about waging peace.  Standing up and acting on the principle of truth force, or soul force is a weapon, wielded against the forces of oppression and injustice.  It is moral weapon which, like the sword of King Arthur, can only be wielded by the morally strong.  It is not for the faint of heart. 

Dr. King, thank you not just for your dream, but for your footsteps marching to lead the way in the walk of peace.  For by walking the way of peace, and through your sacrifice, you led my people — Black and Brown and White — to a place where no war could have taken them.  You have led them to within sight of a promised land, the land of reconciliation and brotherhood. 

I know there are those who feel that objective has not yet been accomplished.  But we are closer now more than ever.  With continued warfare in the way of truth force, it will happen.  That’s my dream.  I have that promised land within my sights. 


Peace Be With And In You

Truth Force Be With And In You



Filed under Ethics

Vegan Broccoli Casserole

2 January 2010

I was clearing my desk off (New Year’s Cleaning) and found this recipe.  I didn’t make it this season, so I’m just going to type what I wrote last year. 


  • 10 buttery crackers (like Ritz brand)
  • 2 packs of frozen broccoli (or 2 lbs fresh)
  • 1/2 onion or shallot
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (e.g. "Follow Your Heart" brand veganaise)
  • 4 oz. shredded rice cheese, cheddar flavor (e.g. Galaxy International Foods brand Cheddar flavor "pasteurized process cheese food alternative")
  • 1 can sliced water chestnuts
  • 1/2 cup oat milk (may substitute non-sweetened soy milk)
  • 2/3 cup white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 vegan mushroom soup (e.g. Imagine brand Portobello Mushroom soup)



Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Microwave or steam broccoli and onions together until the broccoli is tender enough to smash it with a fork (about 6 minutes).  Remove from heat and smash with a fork.

Mix oat milk, mushroom soup, salt, pepper, and flour together.  Use a wire whisk to mix and get all the lumps out of the mixture.  Place this over medium heat, stirring frequently.  There are two objectives to stirring:  (1) make sure the mixture doesn’t burn on the bottom, and (2) make sure it cooks evenly so that the flour doesn’t clump together and form lumps. 

When mixture has thickened, stir in the shredded cheese gradually, allowing it to melt.

Once cheese has melted and the mixture is like a thick gravy, add the broccoli and onion mixture.  Then, add in the water chestnuts. Stir gently so that the mixture is uniform.

Pour the mixture into a casserole dish.  Last thing, crush the cracker crumbs and sprinkle the crumbs on top of the casserole as a garnish.

Heat at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until hot, or about 30 minutes.  (Since there are no eggs, the casserole will not thicken any additional amount; the purpose of heating is just to heat it and brown the top a bit.) 

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Filed under Recipes