Submitted And Committed

‘A few days ago we were woken up by the sound of the ground shaking. My house fell down and a lot of my things were lost but I am very lucky because I still have my family…’

Photo by Mark Pearson

Photo by Mark Pearson

Most of us take a lot for granted, whether that’s our health, the right to free speech or the fact that the buses run (mostly) on time.

We don’t expect helicopters to explode in the sky above us (Carpe Diem And All That), nor do we expect our homes to be destroyed by an unpredictable planet.

My last job in the world of PR (before retraining to be a teacher) was managing communications for a disaster relief charity called ShelterBox. It was a fascinating and challenging job. While I was there, the charity responded to everything from typhoons in the Philippines to conflict in Somalia, floods in Pakistan and hurricanes in the Caribbean.

In each case, ShelterBox sent emergency shelter and other aid to families who had lost their homes as a result of the various disasters. Back at base in Cornwall we heard all kinds of tragic stories and part of my job was to use that information to raise awareness of the charity’s work.

But one story that particularly touched my heart was about a deployment from before my time. It is the story of Siti Ayeesha, an eight-year-old girl from Java who lives through a powerful earthquake that wrecks her village and kills many of her friends.

Siti relates what happens in the video below and what makes it particularly moving for me is that it’s told in her words, voiced by an eight-year-old English girl:

This video has always inspired me. In many ways it was the motivation in 2010 when my wife and I undertook a 10,000-mile tandem bike ride to promote the work of ShelterBox. And when I published my second novel, The Vault, it was a factor in my decision that 50% of the royalties would go to the charity.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been working with an editor on a revised version of The Vault – and have just submitted it to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. And I’ve decided that in the unlikely event I win any of the prize money on offer, I’m going to stick to giving half to ShelterBox.

So, there you are: I’ve made a public commitment. No backing out now!

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