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The Third Wave: A Volunteer Storyby Alison Thompson
Synopses & Reviews
Alison Thompson, a filmmaker living in New York City, was enjoying Christmas with her boyfriend in 2004 when she saw the news reports online: a 9.3 magnitude earthquake had struck the sea near Indonesia, triggering a massive tsunami that hit much of southern Asia. As she watched the death toll climb, Thompson had one thought: She had to go help. A few years earlier, she had spent eight months volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11. She’d learned then that when disaster strikes, it’s not just the firemen and Red Cross who are needed—every single person can make a difference.
With $300 in cash, some basic medical supplies, and a vague idea that she’d go wherever she was needed, Thompson headed to Sri Lanka. Along with a small team of volunteers, she settled in a coastal town that had been hit especially hard and began tending to people’s injuries, giving out food and water, playing games with the children, collecting dead bodies, and helping rebuild the local school and homes that had been destroyed. Thompson had intended to stay for two weeks; she ended up staying for fourteen months. She and her team helped start new businesses and set up the first tsunami early-warning center in Sri Lanka, which continues to save lives today.
The Third Wave tells the inspiring story of how volunteering changed Thompson’s life. It begins with her first real introduction to disaster relief after 9/11 and ends with her more recent efforts in Haiti, where she has helped create and run, with Sean Penn, an internally-displaced-person camp and field hospital for more than 65,000 Haitians who lost their homes in the 2010 earthquake. In The Third Wave, Thompson provides an invaluable inside glimpse into what really happens on the ground after a disaster—and a road map for what anyone can do to help. As Alison Thompson shows, with some resilience, a healthy sense of humor, and the desire to make a difference, we all have what it takes to change the world for the better.
"After the 2004 tsunami hit regions bordering the Indian Ocean, Australian filmmaker Thompson traveled to aid a devastated village in Sri Lanka. More than a year later, she arrived home to New York with hundreds of hours of footage, later edited into her documentary, The Third Wave. Here, Thompson (daughter of a preacher and a nurse) relates events often harrowing (terrorist attacks), disturbing (bone collecting), disheartening (the 'dirty' aid business) yet, on balance, uplifting (lasting friendships) within the context of her emotional and spiritual growth. She interweaves her narrative with accounts of her work at ground zero after 9/11 and in Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake with The Third Wave executive producer, actor Sean Penn. Readers will marvel at Thompson's ability to leave her life midstream to help others, clearly relishing the adventure as much as the opportunity to serve. She urges readers to redefine heroism by doing whatever they can with examples of small efforts (maintaining a toilet at ground zero) with great impact. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Alison Thompson is a filmmaker and humanitarian volunteer. In 2010 she was awarded the Order of Australia, the highest civilian medal awarded by Queen Elizabeth II of England, for her volunteer work and her contribution to humankind. Her documentary film The Third Wave, about her experience volunteering in Sri Lanka after the tsunami, premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival in New York and was screened at a “Presidential Jury” screening at the 2008 Cannes film festival. Born in Australia, Thompson moved to New York City in 1990 and now spends her time traveling between New York, Haiti, Miami, and Sri Lanka.
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