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Sunday, January 09, 2005

to daringly go where no canadians dared go before...?

Disaster assistance teams are on their way to, among other tsunami-stricken places, Sri Lanka... and I can't help but to conjure up images of the recently released Team America flick... basically... puppets!

Canadians have always been at the service of the mighty USofA - if they go to war, we go to war... that is the canadian way! Used to be so already, of course, way back when they were part of the British Empire still... (only then it was the Union Jack, not Uncle Sam they followed blindly). The somewhat inaccurately-named Commonwealth that the British conquests spawned is a whole other story but, alas, frighteningly similar... And the only real reason why Canadian troops are not in Irak is because they would be of no help at all, so...

So - seeing them well-fed North Americans in general going into disaster areas or the Third World in general always makes me roll my eyes ever so slightly...

Will they deprive themselves while there, at least... give up their lunch to give it to a child in tears... to a derelict denizen of the visited wasteland... to an hapless elderly person...?!? Maybe... maybe not! And besides, that would not be enough - now, would it?

Will they, prior to their trip there, sell off all their techy crap and buy essentials with it - to bring to these people? Highly improbable.

Would they sacrifice their careers, well-being, comfort, very lives to aid these most unfortunate citizens of the world...? Unlikely...

There are only so many Lucille Teasdales and Mother Teresas in this world...

DART team heading out to Sri Lanka News Staff

Members of the Canadian military's Disaster Assistance Response Team are on their way to tsunami-striken Sri Lanka.

The first plane, loaded with equipment, was scheduled to leave CFB Trenton at 1 p.m. ET Thursday but took off around 10 a.m. to try to beat a snowstorm moving east from Toronto. A second flight carrying around 200 military personnel took off around 6 p.m. ET.

The DART team is being sent to Ampara on Sri Lanka's southeast coast, where 10,000 people died and 150,000 have been left homeless from the Boxing Day catastrophe.

The local airport in Ampara is too small to accommodate the large Russian aircraft the Canadian government have hired to transport the team, so the planes will land in the capital of Colombo, some 200 kilometres away.

CTV's Roger Smith reporting from Trenton says the team will face its first challenge just getting to Ampara.

"The roads are terrible. Not only has the country been affected by the tsunami but there have been monsoon rains and floods in the last week. So getting to Colombo is one thing and then getting to the area where this team will set up camp is going to be a whole other challenge," he says.

The DART team will be bringing four planeloads of materials, including 40 vehicles, equipment for water purification, and a 43-member medical team.

The team's four boxcar-sized water purification units are each capable of producing 50,000 litres of clean water per day -- enough water for the drinking and cooking needs of about 5,000 people a day.

"They can take a really bad source of water and produce pristine water,'' says Maj. Julia Atherley-Blight, deputy commanding officer of DART. "They can take salt water, contaminated water... and produce pristine water.''

The health team won't handle trauma or surgical cases but will focus instead on providing primary health care to fight secondary infections that often come as a result of a breakdown in sanitation.

Atherly-Blight says the DART team has special capabilities that charitable organizations often lack.

"What the DART team brings to the picture is professional people who are trained in the skills that are required in a relief operation. They are trained medical staff, engineers with a multitude of skills, soldiers that are specialists in security," she says.

"All these people are ready and willing to leave their families at very short notice and go to the other side of the world to do what they can."

A usual DART deployment is about 40 days, but Defence Minister Bill Graham has said the team will almost certainly stay longer. They will stay for however long "it takes to serve the function of the DART -- which is to act as a bridging mechanism," he told CTV News earlier this week.

DART chaplain Padre Jim Hardwick says members are already overwhelmed by some of the images they've seen from the tsunami zone -- but they're ready to help.

"We know what we have to do," Hardwick says. "It's very tangible. What we're gonna see is what we're gonna see."
I guess the question is - are they there to see... or to do something?!?

And before anybody comments -heaven forbid anyone does... past commenters or new!- that I myself am not doing all the things I suggest that they do...

A) I am not part of the DART team...
B) If I were, I would put my money where my mouth is
C) I do all that I can - from here
D) I know I do more than a whole lot of people... and less than a few, select, abnormally wonderful individuals out there... people like Jean Vanier.

'Nuff said...
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