APF Video Interview of Todd Shea, Founder of CDRS
Todd Shea is the Founder of Comprehensive Disaster Response Services (CDRS) a charity registered in Both Pakistan and the United States. Todd Shea is a singer, musician and a songwriter who has traveled all over the World performing his music. His musical inspiration emerged after his mothers’ death; a respite from his pain, anger and grief which helped him though those trying times. It was those difficult times that really shaped Todd as a human being with compassion for others who are suffering. Todd was able to embrace all the hardship he had experienced and instead of dwelling in his pain he was able to rise above the adversity, gearing his emotions, life lessons and experiences towards helping humanity and others harmed by tragedy. Todd eventually began to use music to share his experiences and convey a healing message to help troubled teenagers to get through their own hard times.
9/11, a day that changed the lives of many, also changed Todd Shea’s permanently. He discovered abilities within him, that he is still surprised he found. Todd was visiting New York to perform a musical concert at a famous music establishment in lower Manhattan named CBGBs, when the towers were hit. As he witnessed the start of a horrific tragedy unfolding from his hotel room window, Todd put his guitar down and gave everything he had in assisting the firefighters and civilians on 9/11. Since then Todd has been directly involved in many disasters, ranging from Hurricane Katrina, The Haiti earthquake, Pakistan earthquakes , floods and refugee emergencies, Tsunamis in Sri Lanka and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Todd has been collaborating with and supporting many missions and organizations responding to disasters around the world. He has voluntarily worked on all his missions where he has provided logistical support. During Hurricane Katrina Todd also worked on rescuing animals that were affected by the storm. The 2005 earthquake in Pakistan claimed thousands of lives and crippled the entire infrastructure of the Kashmir region. In response to this, Todd helped deploy a group of doctors and decided to stay and help re-establish and improve damaged and destroyed health facilities in these very hard-to-reach remote areas. Since then he has been working in Pakistan to assist people who have been affected by natural disasters and conflict. After receiving a positive response and great appreciation by the people in the villages and their tribal elders, Todd decided to stay and register the organization under Pakistani law and help rebuild the healthcare system.
During the first five months after the earthquake, CDRS was able to treat and facilitate the healthcare needs of almost 100,000 patients, and during the past 8 years the organization has treated more than 650,000 patients and estimates that it has positively impacted the lives of nearly 2 million Pakistani men, women and children. Apart from creating effective healthcare systems in remote and disaster affected areas, the organization also helps with livelihood redevelopment projects such as helping to save Swat’s Honey industry and re-establishing irrigation canals that were cut by the earthquakes and floods so people could save their crops and in their livelihoods. Todd likes to inform his fellow Americans that he has been able to travel throughout Pakistan without any security and has even travelled to the regions where it was not advisable. He noticed that Americans have a negative image of the Pakistani Government and its people, whereas it is quite the opposite in Pakistan, where an average Pakistani citizen likes the American people but doesn’t like the policies of the US government. During his years in Pakistan he has been able to experience the love, respect and the generosity of the Pakistani people, which has fueled him to continue to press on and work to improve the lives of suffering people, as well as the Pakistani image in the international community.
“Thank goodness that Malala has entered the American consciousness and people understand that there are millions of innocent and wonderful children in Pakistan and I am hoping to utilize the new consciousness that people in America and around the world have about Malala, to then show them that there are a lot of other heroes there, not just children, but women and men doing amazing things with very little support.” Todd is hoping to be a source of education, and help many learn that there are many stories such as Malala’s taking place on a daily basis.
Impressed by the work of Edhi Foundation, which runs a large network of medical aid and emergency assistance throughout Pakistan, Todd thinks that his founder Abdul Sattar Edhi should be a Nobel Prize winner and be granted more credit for his efforts. He hopes that with the help of all the partnerships and collaborations that CDRS has, his team can be part of creating a system that is beneficial for the children of Pakistan, where people can enjoy peace, stability, good health, economic growth and a chance for a better life.
You can learn more about CDRS here: http://cdrspakistan.org/
* Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the American Pakistan Foundation