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THE THIRD WAVE by Alison Thompson


A Volunteer Story

by Alison Thompson with MeiMei Fox

Pub Date: July 12th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-385-52916-7
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Uplifting chronicle of the author’s personal involvement in disaster-relief efforts after 9/11, the Asian tsunami of 2004 and the Haitian earthquake of 2010.

When Thompson heard about the tsunami, she knew she had to go there to help. With $300 and some gear, she was on the ground in Sri Lanka by January 5th, ready to start work. Her impressive accomplishments form the heart of the narrative. Prefigured by her months in the dust, dirt and rubble of Ground Zero after 9/11, Thompson’s 14 months in Sri Lanka were alternately painful and gut-wrenching. There was nothing left in Peraliya when they arrived. Approximately 2,500 had died, and more than 500 homes had been destroyed. The villagers needed clean water, food, shelter and medical aid. All the water wells had been contaminated by the sea. On their first day, the volunteers’ truck became an emergency first-aid station. In the first 10 hours, they treated 150 people. By the time they took a break, after six months, a permanent medical facility was under construction, 75,000 people had been treated, school facilities had been set up and shelter had been provided. The author and her fellow volunteer friends had been joined by Germans, Dutch, British, Danes and dozens of others from around the world, each with something special to offer. They fought the heartache of funds that didn’t come through and the suffering of those who saved their loved ones from the violence of the sea, only to lose them later due to the inadequacy of follow-up medical care. Thompson writes that at Ground Zero, she overcame her fear of death. In Peraliya, she overcame her fear of evil.

An inspiring story demonstrating that there are always ways to help. For fellow volunteers, the author includes a helpful section called “What to Know Before You Go.”