Not the best time it seems to be thinking about setting off for six months across two continents!
The Coronovirus pandemic is reaping a heavy toll across the world. As I write this, the number of confirmed cases globally is already over 2 million with nearly 150k deaths. It wasn't even that a global pandemic was not on the 'risk radar', but nobody had the appetite to plan for it and the few that did were missing vital information in how governments and the worlds strategic financial institutions would respond. I'm afraid this is characteristic of classic risk acceptance by leadership and associated behaviours at the highest levels of government, international organisations, society and across all business sectors ....... 'too difficult', 'it won't happen on my watch', 'never happen'. Thank goodness its not a disease like Ebola with a high mortality rate. What other risks are we ignoring?
A global crisis presents a great opportunity for leaders to shine and the world naturally looks to G7 / G8 leaders and, in this case, the WHO for guidance. Sadly this is mostly missing, the international response is largely fragmented and results are very mixed. Countries have rapidly withdrawn into themselves, closed borders and taken independent action to safeguard their citizens influenced by national culture and behaviours coloured by history. The EU even ignored their own members wrestling early with the disease and are only just starting to 'wake up'. The USA is 'poking sticks' at the only global health organisation that has struggled financially for years to discharge its responsibilities to protect humankind in the middle of the pandemic. Poor leadership 'lays smoke', hides inadequacies, personal shortfalls and tries to shift the focus of the media spotlight. 'Me first' is selfish and detrimental to the global good; surely they must get 'found out'. And where is the UN? Cooee ....... UN? The scenario is perhaps characteristic of a 'Yes Minister' sketch.
There are active discussions underway regarding the origin of the disease. A 'wet food market' in Wuhan specialising in exotic (illegally poached?) animals and conspiracy theorists suggesting that the virus escaped from a Bio Laboratory near Wuhan (funded by the USA). Whichever in due course, the 'truth will out'. At the right time, it will of course be important to learn the lessons to ensure we are all better prepared for the next time - and there will be a next time! For now we must focus on saving and safeguarding lives.
In the mean time lets not forget that people are still dying from natural disasters around the world such as earthquakes, lack of access to drinking water and food but their occurrence and consequence now lies buried under the media focus on 'coronovirus'. The consequences of climate change have not gone away.The decimation of wildlife through illegal poaching across Africa continues.
I paint a gloomy picture but nevertheless I am an optimist. The bright side is that my hip is fixed and I can walk again - well its still a bit of a hobble but I'm off crutches, sticks and poles around the house (furniture cruising a bit less every day). I'm slowly building up the daily kilometres as far as I can within the current movement and social distancing constraints. I feel like I've finally got my life back and don't want to waste a minute of it. There is so much to do and that can be done.
Opportunity knocks. Coronovirus has shown most institutions to be woefully unprepared and the overall global response is barely adequate. Now is the time to set aside regional squabbles. The virus gives the world a common objective to unite around to save lives. Industrial inactivity and widely adapted 'stay home' policies have reduced pollution levels across the world - a helping hand towards emissions targets. The continent of Africa, rich in natural resources that are finite and need to be exploited and used responsibly, should be the worlds 'bread basket'. Now is the time to assess what really matters to us all and work together. Focus on feeding the planet, access to fresh potable water, disease monitoring, control and eradication, wildlife protection and conservation with countries supporting each other to mutually prosper.......... "Idealist clap trap, never happen.." some may say.
The thing I miss most about being in the military is the attitude, drive and determination of those that 'can do'. Surround yourselves with those that exude energy, enthusiasm and that are willing to help work out 'how to get the moon in a paper bag' (or whatever the supposedly impossible task of today might be); you will get there. The apparently impossible is within our grasp.
The bottom line is, this a wake up call that must not be ignored. We must learn to look after our fragile planet home and all its inhabitants and associated flora and fauna. A global warning bell has sounded, who will answer the call?
So enough 'blethering'. What does this mean for Tip Toe as I sit at home 'locked down' and with at least another three weeks of this ahead? Its already clear that international overland travel is not going to be sensible or responsible for sometime and a 2021 departure now seems very unlikely. So we are going to plan and hope for a 2022 departure. In the mean time in addition to continuing with the TipToe planning process, and helping resource critical medical supplies for Africa, we will focus on the creation and establishment of Foundation Five working with governments and corporations using Africa's own resources to generate funding to support communities and wildlife in Africa. If you have 'can do' and want to help in anyway no matter how small then please step forward!