During the 1980's, while chasing my dream career as a successful television producer, God had other plans for my life which began when I was invited to document a talented medical team restoring the lives of 10 severely burned children in Bolivia. And within those 10 days, it was through the camera lens that I saw what a love that knows no borders can accomplish in changing the lives of suffering victims of disasters!
After returning from the successful medical mission, the executive producer invited me to join a disaster response medical team which he was creating, complete with our own C-130 aircraft. But as fate had it, he died a few weeks later and the passing of my friend and mentor along with the loss of his plans for this airborne disaster response haunts me still, even 40 plus years later.
Fast forward another 10 years, I traveled to Brazil to document the orphan crisis, where again through the lens I experienced a second "wake-up" call. It was there in the small favela where I was approached by a father, desperate to share with me a haunting story where while their children slept on the dirt floors of their plywood shanty homes, the rains would come, resulting in flash floods that would sweep their children away to their death in the dark of night. This father's only request was if his community could receive a culvert, the drowning deaths would end. Tragically no one was interested in helping someone else’s children in another city, in another country, and I experienced what was truly wrong with this world and that was apathy.
Having experienced the lack of response in several major hurricanes, these personal experiences as well as those I saw through the lens, all inspired me to tirelessly research years of disaster events. And beyond the problem of apathy in our world, the data was clear, that the world could reduce the cost of life and property if we focused on building disaster resilience in every community, and second when disaster does strike the needless loss of lives was not as a direct result of the disaster, but because of the lack of a response within the first 72 hours. However I concluded, the reality is our world did not need another disaster response organization. Our world instead needed a smarter and better equipped disaster response! Lives were being saved but much more could be done, where families are given the chance to remain intact and economies are not devastated causing even more hardships on victims and even investors! That is the very reason why I formed Wings CRS with a firm commitment to taking catastrophe response to the next level and beyond to save more lives!
In the following years I worked diligently to formulate plans for a formidable global response. I and some colleagues took our plans to major foundations, trusts, investors, and high level government officials across the world, and their unanimous response was we love your plan, but "we do not care about saving lives to invest the money!" Tragically our world suffers immensely because those who have the power to change our world for the better, have little regard for saving lives. In a confrontation with a former bank officer, who could not make financial sense of the cost of this mission, I asked him this one question, "What is one life worth?"
We did finally secure the funding commitment, but that was just one hurdle. After all, “ "where much is given, much is required!” Great visions simply do not manifest into reality overnight. Read all the histories of the great entrepreneurs, past and present, and their stories are the same. Even with the best of plans, there are no short cuts, and there is no manual or university courses! The greater the task we are called to, the greater the resiliency that is required of us, as it is only through the fiery furnaces where we are refined through perseverance and sacrifice, to be able to deliver beyond what is expected!
There is no greater joy than serving, especially those in their most desperate hour. Through these past months and years, this amazing journey has been a truly transformative experience for me, and I am personally thankful for those who have supported this mission, even if it was for a brief time. Truly it can be said that, "all gave some and some gave all !". Soon our air fleet will arrive, accompanied by over 12 thousand full-time dedicated and passionate team members, most as military veterans who will be finding a new purpose, greater than themselves, and all committed to this one goal, "to take catastrophe response to the next level and beyond to save more lives, because we ask ourselves and we ask you, what is one life worth?"
Perhaps the very life we will save will be your own.
Sir Michael Walters CEO & President
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