Knowledge Exchange

August 09, 2016

It Only Takes A Spark

By: Anjela Mae Era

I first worked for the Local Government Academy (LGA) as a practicum student in 2013. I was assigned to work on the Capacity Development Online Market System that was still in its infancy then.

It was an opportunity for me to see the things I learned in the classroom come to life. Authors we studied in class such as Peter Drucker were consistently being referenced in government initiatives spearheaded by the organization. I eventually joined the LGA as a full-time employee, admiring the work that was being done by the organization.

It was in 2015 that my superior involved me in the DRR-CCA programs and projects of the DILG and LGA. The exposure to this project became the foundation for my current advocacy.

It all started when I was assigned as the Project Officer of the National Disaster Preparedness Plan (NDPP). Being involved in the process of planning and implementing different activities on the NDPP changed my perspective on what disaster preparedness really entails, which is “to avert the loss of lives and assets” according to the National Disaster Preparedness Plan.

While the common notion of disaster preparedness revolves around the idea of being able to react swiftly when disasters happen, true preparedness is really grounded on being able to mitigate risks even before hazards strike. Response, recovery, and rehabilitation mechanisms will only be activated once preparedness, prevention and mitigation initiatives have failed.

Also, through Operation LISTO, a national advocacy program of the department which aims to strengthen the capacity and level of preparedness of LGUs, I recognized that preparedness should be institutionalized in the national and local levels, all the way down to the family. DRR is everyone’s concern.

New ideas

My change of heart was further influenced after participating in the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme in Cambodia in 2015. It was an opportunity to learn new ideas and appropriate technology related to disaster and sustainable development. The said program paved the way for Project READY (Resiliency, Empowerment and Advocacy on Disaster – of the Youth) which was selected from among many submissions and was granted seed funding from the USAID.

Project READY, with the help of the city government, Gen2:15 Development Foundation, Inc. (GDFI) and various organizations, is now being implemented in the City of Sta. Rosa, Laguna. It highlights the active role of the youth in disaster preparedness. Select youth leaders/volunteers from Santa Rosa were capacitated with knowledge on DRR basic concepts, family disaster preparedness and effective communication/awareness campaign through an organized training session.

Included in the training is the community exposure, wherein the youth leaders visited families of fisherfolks—Bantay Lawa—in Brgy. Sinalhan. These young leaders were able to share basic information on disaster preparedness and to introduce the READY family’s Family HOUR (patterned on DILG's "Gabay at Mapa para sa Listong Pamilyang Pilipino"). Consequently, the youth leaders also learned local knowledge, practices and stories from the families of Bantay Lawa.

The youth leaders continue to be advocates for disaster preparedness, both offline and online. They have spent Family HOUR with their own families and introduced it to their friends. They are also going to fill the READY bags and use the “Gabay at Mapa” distributed to them. It will hopefully create ripples of resiliency in their own little way.

Many of the volunteers voiced out their hopes for READY not to be just a project. They hope it will become a club, enabling them to contribute to their community with their newfound friends. I shared with them my motto in life: Even a mountain can be moved, stone by stone.

It could mean a lot of things, as endless as the ways on how we could contribute to nation building and development regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, and physical limitations.

Director Marivel Sacendoncillo once said that an effective leader creates leaders. I hope I, through Project READY, created many ripples. I hope the youth leaders will also take the responsibility of contributing to a better world to live.

I am also sincerely thankful to some of my friends and colleagues from LGA who provided insights while planning it and those who volunteered to help in the actual project implementation.

I am delighted to be a part of the LGA family.

Project READY is a program under the ASEAN Youth Volunteers Programme (AYVP) 2015, which promotes the youth’s active involvement in disaster preparedness. To know more about it, check out the Facebook page!

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