Friday, November 21, 2014

Self help, facebook, and the Ukraine

StrategyPage has an article on how facebook is helping anti Russian civilians in the Ukraine help their military.

The volunteers developed some very effective techniques to get things done and done quickly. For example they would often collect funds and then put that on credit cards so that it was easier to buy things overseas like protective vests, Kevlar helmets, night vision goggles, laser rangefinders and so on. Since some of this equipment was “restricted” to military or police organizations there were volunteers with connections overseas to deal with the restrictions.
Closer to home volunteers, especially in the major cities, were able to collect soap, shaving gear and food (even if just snacks) and quickly transport it to the troops. Using social media like Facebook and local radio and press volunteers could quickly act on a request from front line units. Volunteers came to know commanders and many individual troops and many requests could be filled within 24 hours. Given the corruption that was prevalent in Ukraine, the social networks and personal networks ensured that there was very little theft occurring when volunteers were involved.

Several thoughts on this.

One: When there were tornadoes in Oklahoma or hurricane floods in Louisiana, our locals would pack up supplies and folks in their pickup trucks and vans and travel to help.

Some of this help is designated groups (e.g. national guard, EMT's,), and a lot  are church groups, but some are just folks saying: Hey there are floods near Aunt Louise's house, so let's go and help.

Two: Most of this is ignored in the press, as the PopMech article on the Katrina rescue noted.

Even here in the Philippines, many people in last year's typhoons (including the one the press ignored that hit us a week before Yolanda devestated the Visayas) were not housed by the UN or even by the gov't, but took refuge in neighbors and relative's houses. Our relatives who live closer to the river had lots sleeping in their houses, and since we had a generator, many neighbors came here for recharging cellphones and flashlights, or to get spare clothing or blankets.

Some people in Manila packed up stuff and drove down to their relative's places, and others, like us, just sent money so relatives could quickly rebuild. (One of the scandals of Yolanda is that there is so much red tape that many have not received needed aid to rebuild, and of course, a lot of aid was diverted into people's pockets).

Three: too often people are trained in socialism to wait for gov't rescue (one of the problems in Katrina, where the schoolbuses sat flooded because some regulation stopped them from being used to evacuate, the governor refused troops to help and insisted she'd wait for aid from FEMA, which took days).

What is interesting about this is that ordinary folks in the Ukraine have "thought outside the box" and helped on their own, bypassing the bulky and corrupt bureaucracy to do so. Hmm...maybe they do belong to the western world.

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