But Rescue Telecom volunteers do not only intervene for natural disasters. For example, last year I travelled to Greece, close to its border with Macedonia, to where many migrants from the Middle East have flocked. The equipment that I set up there enabled migrants to identify themselves to the local authorities using email and to stay informed. In other words, it helped them exercise their fundamental rights.
The Rescue Telecom program was created in 2013 by AXA Tech, following the same concept as Urgence-Telecom, which is a non-profit organization founded in France by Pierre Bernard, a Paris-based AXA Tech employee, in 2009. Rescue Telecom offers technical, financial and material support to Urgence-Telecom and to other associations based the same model in Belgium, the US and Japan.
When Daniel created the local Belgian branch with John Cramer in 2013, he immediately thought of me. Like him, I had been a volunteer for several years as part of AXA Hearts in Action, AXA’s international volunteering program which brings together tens of thousands of employees to participate in solidarity-based operations.
Volunteering has always appealed to me. Even when I was a scout I always tried to carry out my “good deed” every day. This commitment towards others has carried on into my humanitarian work. I can also count on the support of AXA and of my manager, with whom I have made arrangements to be reimbursed for my time off once I come back from my mission.
Knowing that I am always ready to volunteer, Daniel was able to include me in the team being set up by the NGO Urgence-Telecom to depart on the next available flight from Paris to Pointe-à-Pitre. A stopover in Guadeloupe is necessary in order to reach St. Martin. Located less than 300 km from the devastated island, it was spared by the hurricane and has an international airport. With the clock ticking, I prepare my luggage: tent, survival provisions, and above all my network technician equipment.