The power of one – this was the message that Linda Cruse gave at the Sunday, February 5 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. Linda is a remarkable lady who for the past 12 years has gone from one disaster area to another to provide assistance.
During those 12 years. Linda traveled on 3 continents to 16 countries with just one suitcase, which contains all that she owns. She said that even one person can make a difference in the lives that have been impacted by the disaster. Linda said when she started, she felt that as a trained nurse she had something to offer.
Ivan from Cuba introduces Linda Cruse, to talk of her work in many of the world’s recent disaster areas.
Linda asked everyone to take a few moments and think about who were their heroes when they were young. Afterward, she said that most people grow up to be the kind of person they most admired; their heroes. She mentioned that her heroes were Grace Aylward who traveled across Siberia to work as a missionary in northern China in the 1930s and 1940’s; Florence Nightingale who laid the foundation for professional nursing; and Alexandra David-Néel, who went to Tibet as part of her explorations. So, in many ways, she emulated her heroes with her trekking to various countries to provide aid. In doing so, she found that things she previously took for granted were no longer there such as clean water or electricity. Although there were hardships, it was well worth the effort.
There were two particular disasters that Linda said she would talk about and what she was able to accomplish. One was the aftermath of the tsunami that struck in December 2004. She made her way to Khao Lak and was truly struck by the human tragedy and level of grief. There were many children who had lost their families and their support system. She mentioned the sadness around her, but noticed that there were artists whose drawings brought some relief into the lives of the children and others.
Transnational aid worker Linda Cruse shares with PCEC members her philosophy, called ‘The Power of One”, which she practices in her assistance in the world’s natural disaster areas.
She explained how having been an amateur magician in the UK, she came up with the idea of getting magicians to come to Khao Lak to bring some joy into the lives of the children. Through her connections with the Brotherhood of Magicians she was able to find volunteers. The first volunteer showed up within two weeks. With magic, there is no language barrier and he was able to bring some happiness into their lives. Linda said a teacher approached her and pointed to a little girl and said that was the first time she had seen her smile since she lost her family.
Arabella Spencer-Churchill, granddaughter of Winston, who was involved in charity work that arranged circus performances to benefit children contacted Linda about her efforts. Shortly thereafter, there were clowns, stilt walkers and others to join the magicians in helping the children and others get through the grief and on the road to getting their lives back to normal.
Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg opens the Pattaya City Expats meeting, inviting new members and guests to introduce themselves.
The devastating earthquake in Pakistan was another time when she was able to make a difference. Linda said that one of her skills is facilitating private sector involvement in providing assistance. However, in Pakistan, this proved to be a challenge because business people did not have first hand knowledge of the conditions and would not travel to the impacted area as there was too much risk in being kidnapped. So Linda decided to get firsthand knowledge of the conditions. Linda undertook this role, traveling in a burkha and getting around in a battered old taxi. She was able to make her observations and talked with the local people on what was needed. She then returned with this information and the business people told her, “Now we know what to do.”
In conclusion, Linda displayed several poignant pictures of the many countries and places she visited during her 12 years of going from disaster area to disaster area. After the photos, Linda said that her main message was that you as an individual can make a difference – look around you and decide what you can do because even a little can be beneficial and will make a difference.
Linda has also authored a book about her disaster work entitled “Cakes and Kalashnikovs – A Call to Arms – 16 countries, 3 continents, 12 years and one suitcase.” The book should be published this year.
After Linda answered several questions, Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg then called on Pat Koester to conduct the always informative and sometimes humorous Open Forum, where questions about living in Thailand and Pattaya in particular are asked and answered.
The Pattaya City Expats Club meets every Sunday at the Amari Orchid’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant. Read more about the Club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.