Fighting fear and fire in California

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This weekend I got some scary news. My brother is a firefighter in southern California, and he’s one of around 2,300 firefighters who’ve been fighting the Santa Barbara wildfires for the past few days.

I talked to his fiancée this weekend (they’re getting married in 10 days!) and she said Rob and some of the other firefighters had been at someone’s house waiting for an assignment when the fire suddenly came over a nearby hill straight toward them. They had to scramble to get their gear on and start fighting it. More

All hands to the bucket

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It was “all hands to the bucket” last week during Red Cross Appeal Week. On Friday Sahra and I collected at a garden centre near Bristol – it was certainly a case of “come rain or shine” not to mention wind – we were pretty cold at the end of two hours.

But it was well worth it as a lot of people put money in our buckets and it is encouraging to know that so many want to give money to the Red Cross. Several people told us that the Red Cross is their favourite charity. More

Monday Movement Update #8

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Here’s your weekly update on what different members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement* are doing.

Several people in Sri LankaSwine flu: Read about Raúl Serrato, one of the Mexican Red Cross volunteers who’s helping distribute health information.

Sri Lanka conflict (pictured right): The ICRC has evacuated 13,000 people from the conflict zone since 10 February. Find out more about the work they’re doing.

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What will your move be?

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Just been flicking through today’s papers, unsurprisingly a pretty depressing experience. Here are some of the headlines:

  • Afghans riot over air-strike atrocity
  • Labour’s record on poverty in tatters
  • Witch hunts, murder and evil in Papua New Guinea
  • Villagers flee as military tackles Taliban in Swat
  • A year on, China quake survivors face uncertain future

But do you want to hear the good news? More

Community spirit hits home

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The other day my Mum was attacked right outside her house in broad daylight. She had just arrived home from work and was wheeling her bike into her drive, which is on a sleepy road in west London.

As she got her house keys out of her bag, she felt a hard thwack to the back of her neck. “I was terrified…I thought I was being mugged,” she told me later. Momentarily stunned, she looked around, but couldn’t see anyone behind her. More

Sanitation tests my sanity

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My ‘facilities’ have been driving me crazy lately. Firstly, my boiler packs up and I’m telling you now I’m not a cold shower person. No problem I think, I’ve been paying my monthly insurance fee for just such an occasion for years – now it’s time for some payback. Except it’s not – I’m told my boiler is so decrepit there’s nothing they can do I just need to buy a new boiler, which will cost me £1,600! Ouch. Don’t they know I’m a charity worker? I decide to cancel my insurance and the guy on the phone points out that this may be a bit risky. I don’t care, I’m too mad right now.

Then the drain that serves the apartment above me gets blocked. It’s been like that for weeks and nasty smelling stuff is spilling over to the area outside my kitchen window. Anyone for afternoon tea?

Man drinking water from tap

I’m ashamed to say I spent the whole weekend whingeing but luckily for my family and friends when I came to work on Monday morning I got a bit of a reality check. More