Dr/Ambassador Alison Thompson is a full time global humanitarian volunteer. Her work started on the Sept 11th 2001 attacks in New York, where she rollerbladed downtown to help as a first responder. There she lived in the streets collecting bodies and running a first aid station for nine months. Alison lost twenty-three of her close friends on Sept 11th which had a huge impact on dedicating her life to service.
Alison has worked as a full time volunteer for the past 16 years, running refugee and internally displaced persons camps along with setting up and running field hospitals in Sri Lanka, Haiti, Philippines, Greece, Turkey, Africa, Nepal, Sandy Superstorm in NY, the Syrian and Iraq Crisis and numerous disasters around the world. In 2005 she founded CTEC-the first Tsunami Early-Warning Disaster Center in Sri Lanka along with a Children’s Learning Center and Tsunami Museum.
In 2012 Alison was appointed as the first official Ambassador to the Haitian Ministry of Environment where she still works in reforestation, sustainable energy and cholera initiatives. In Sri Lanka where Alison helped rebuild tsunami ravaged villages she is fondly known as the “Angel of Galle” and also the “Angel of Light” in Nepal and Greece with the Syrian refugees. In 2015 she was honored at Loyola Chicago University with an Honorary ‘Doctorate of Letters’, in the ‘Humanities’, where she also gave the commencement speech.
For the past 12 months, Alison has worked tirelessly on the island of Lesvos, Greece in the epicenter of the Syrian refugee Crisis, where millions have fled the war zones of Syria and Iraq. In Greece Alison works as a volunteer paramedic caring for refugees with hypothermia and war wounds and has developed a large network of volunteers who support and coordinate direct aid for the refugees. Her mission is to bring Love and Light to the refugees and to be a VOICE for HUMANITY for the suffering. Her latest program is bringing in an innovative origami designed Solar lights to the Syrian refugees in the dark camps. Alison has personally delivered Solar lights to over 65,000 refugees.
When you ask Alison what she does she will say “I’m a volunteer” – little do people know when they ask that question that she has founded ‘The Third Wave’ volunteer organisation which has a network of over 100,000 volunteers and followers from all over the world who have signed up to volunteer with her group. Alison works at the grassroots level -living in tents in the communities she is helping- creating innovative change to help make lives and communities work in a more sustainable way. Alison loves to inspire others to volunteer and lectures in universities, schools and corporations worldwide on leadership, volunteering, sustainability, disaster preparedness, GBV, women’s rights and corporate social responsibility
In 2010, Alison flew to Haiti along with Sean Penn and ten doctors to help after the earthquake. Together, they managed a 70,000-person IDP camp and field hospital and she was honored by US Army Two- Star General Simeon Trombitas and the 82nd Airborne with the US Commanders ‘Medal of Excellence’ Award. In 2010 Alison was also awarded the Order of Australia, the highest civilian medal by the Australian Government for her volunteerism, bravery and contributions to mankind.
Alison then moved on to work in the Cite Soleil Haitian slums where she co-founded We Advance, a gender-based violence organisation and clinic for raped women and children and has worked there for the the past six years.
In 2008 Alison stepped up with Sean Penn again for the “Dirty Hands Caravan,” which inspired 200 Coachella concert goers to join them on a volunteering, cross-country camping trip. In bio-diesel buses, the group volunteered for two weeks all over the USA helping run a Leukemia drive, AIDS and May Day marches and cleaning up the environment. The trip ended in New Orleans to assist in rebuilding the Ninth Ward—three years after Katrina. An inspiring documentary, Dirty Hands Caravan, is in post-production.
For the past three years, Alison has lead a 5,000 student anti-gun violence march in the South side of Chicago with the Perspective Charter Schools and is on the planning committee for the Annual One Billion Women Rising campaign, the largest gender-based violence movement in the world.
Her award-winning documentary The Third Wave, chronicles her volunteer experience in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in a Presidential Jury Screening presented by Sean Penn and Bono. She followed up with a book published by Random house, The Third Wave: A Volunteer Story.
With simplicity and humility, Alison inspires everyone to service and to take action just as she has: as an everyday, average individual. She tailors her message on how ‘anyone can volunteer’, from a global scope to our own backyards and that “everyone is needed”.
Alison’s motto is ” Its easy to be in the wrong place at the wrong time but its Leadership to be in the wrong place at the right time!”
Check out footage from the 2016 Advance Global Australian Awards where Alison won the Award for Social Impact.