Saturday, September 19, 2009


Last two weeks ago a Facebook friend of mine almost got run of the road by a crazy driver. It’s Trinidad, nothing new.Oh but what he did next was ingenious and super cool! He whipped out his camera phone, took a picture of the crazy driver car with the number plate in full view. And then, he posted the picture on Facebook. What a hero! In an instant tons of people were commenting – I’m sure a lot of people knew the crazy person was too. And more than likely this person now knows that he/she is plastered all over Facebook. For shame!As I mentioned to a colleague of mine, I truly believe that other than domestic violence issues, many missing girls and women I feel are in such a state because of the sort of ad hoc transportation system that many face – there are so many unregistered maxi-taxis and taxis out there with so many predators taking advantage of this disorganized gap and over-demand for transport.We were discussing possible ways of fixing this disorganization – many long term options are available and some are in the process of implementation but what can be done NOW! NOW! NOW!There is a solution and you literally hold it in your hands my ladies and gentlemen, my boys and girls. It’s called a cell phone. CELL PHONE, CELL PHONE CELL PHONE! Almost everyone has a cell phone, even if it is only a cell phone that can send text messages. But, most people these days do have cameras in their phone.So listen…use it! People, if it is late and you’re getting into a maxi or taxi you don’t trust, take a picture of it, the driver and especially if you could the license plate. Do it discreetly, from in your purse or pocket. If you are in a car and you feel weird – don’t wait for the feeling to pass, text someone discreetly and quietly as much info as you can about the car, the surrounding places you see – ANYTHING! And send it to at least one person – parents or friends. At least that way we’d have a start if we have to set out to look for you!And it doesn’t have to be a car situation. Someone you know or do not know is seriously harassing you on the street? Get away quickly and safely first, but if you could, text or take a picture of the person and send it to at least one trusted person. And then if you feel safe enough to do it, anonymously BROADCAST it! Send anonymous pictures to the newspapers – who knows, it may save a life!In 2008 I did this for a man in lower Cascade (86 Cascade Rd, Port of Spain, people, for extra shame on this man), who was beating and starving his tied dog to the point of death. I went to the police (funny right?) – of course nothing doing. I whipped out my camera, zoomed in, took pictures, printed them with a message that I was going to share them with the News, and stuck them all over his front gate so people could see. The next week he gave away the dog.Now I’m NOT telling you to get camera happy like that. This is about giving yourself a chance to save your own life if you feel that you are in danger! Make sure first and foremost that you are always discreet and safe when you take these pictures or texts and make sure to send them to someone who will 1. Get them immediately and 2. Know what to do – call the right authorities, persons etc. Nor am I saying that you suddenly shame every Tom, Dick and Harry who is happily minding his/her own business. Please this is a life saving technique, not “Jerry Springer.”It’s not hard. It’s ridiculously easy to do – practice it with a friend or family member; it will actually be fun to do.And ladies, girls and boys out there, as an aside, there are many extra curricular defense classes out there, some of them are very affordable – please, join a defense class. While attending university they had a free weekend defense class open to the public and I attended – and let me tell you after it was finished I saw a 12 year old girl topple and safely run from two 6 feet robust men – knowing the right techniques.LEADERS who are reading this, it would be good to start a self-defense drive in schools and community clubs for ladies and girls in particular. Now.We don’t need guns and we don’t need to stay inside scared. We need to know the proper and effective tactics to defend ourselves and to make sure these attackers are exposed.And this is not only for Trinidad this is for every citizen of every country who reads this in Facebook and wherever this note ends up. (If you can read this and translate it into another language, please do and pass it on).I care about you! I care about us. Let’s do this.Use your cell phone to save your own life, and share the word and the picture with at least one trusted person. Become your own life saving journalist! Be the paparazzi to these predators. Empower yourself with this media tool you already have.

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