When I was a student at Wheaton college graduate program on Humanitarian Disaster Leadership, I heard lecture upon lecture, and read book after book on the topic of Emergency Management. With my missionary history of Community Health Evangelism, where Development and local ownership are emphasized, I was glad to recognize that engaging the locals in relief activities was frequently mentioned as an important component of appropriately implemented aid. However, reality and theory sometimes do not check.Most of the times when I have been involved in responses to disasters, outsiders with resources are who determine the assessments, priorities, procedures and evaluation of their plans. They decide when to begin, how long and when to end their interventions.
Community Participation is covered as long as members of the affected area are hired, consulted, or met at some point of the journey, so the box can be checked. There are lives to be saved. Time is an essential resource. “We are the experts”, you can almost hear them say. Even the language spoken in clusters rarely corresponds to the country of intervention.
But Community involvement is not an item to be checked on the list of relief best practices. It is the way to begin, it is a road map and it is also how to end well a relief effort.Through the years and the eyes of someone who has seen transformation take place in urban and rural environments, I present a list of things to be considered if wereally want to witness local ownership and ongoing development in the midst of a crisis that requires immediate response:
1.- Relationships of trust are cultivated, nurtured, promoted and pursued. It is not about a mere job to get done. We are sincerely concerned about the well-being of fellow human beings that, in the midst of their own dismay and stress, need to be reminded that someone cares for individuals at the deepest level, mirroring God´s sacrificial love for the world by being there with them.
2.- Local groups that have previously been involved with community efforts to solve their challenges are invited to the table as partners the moment we step into their own areas. We acknowledge the need for their moral approval also, even if we have authorities´ permission to come in, out of respect for their area of influence.
3.- Training local leaders in Disaster Preparedness and Risk Managementbefore a disaster occurs, equips them to respond with more understanding when crisis come. That is why Medical Ambassadors invest in areas of the Disaster Cycle that may not seem as impressive as immediate response efforts, but in the long term, build capacity for local response in multiple circumstances where outside resources do not become available.
4.- We need to have an integral mindset, even if our intervention is single-focused. If we do not have a holistic view of an event and its causes and consequences, considering the necessary responses to it, we may miss the opportunity to link with others responding to the different aspects of complex emergencies. Only when we replace an attitude of self-sufficiency with a deep understanding of being a small part of God´s response to the need, we will be able to contribute without claiming ownership and relinquishing all credit to the One who sees the whole picture.
5.- Care for the most vulnerable, remain non-partisan, respect dignity, value people´s ideas, be mutually accountable. Though these are well promoted recommendations from recognized actors in the Disaster-Response arena, our organizations have to be intentional in our approach as these things can be easily engulfed by the stress of the moment.
When COVID 19 affected our planet, response was no different. Communities that took charge succeeded in the fight against the spread of the virus. Those that relied on the latest information, the outside world, the magic solutions had an uphill struggle.
Resilience came out of practical actions to express creativity, care and confidence. There is always room to learn to respond to crisis better. But without communities´ own initiative taken into account, we are in Paul´s words, “beating the air”, (1 Corinthians 9:26)
Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air
Psychological First Aid Training Available now!
Psychological First Aid – PFA
MACA has produced online training programs in Psychological First Aid - PFA.
Fires, Hurricanes, War, Floods, Covid19.All of these types of social disruption have an affect on individuals.Psychological First Aid is helpful during these times.Whether we are working for a large aid relief organization or if we are a member of a church or neighbourhood community we can provide Psychological First Aid to those in need
This course is appropriate for churches, international community development workers, community league members, and missionaries and anyone who has an interest.
Courses will be conducted online (ZOOM) using three, 90 minute sessions or five one hour sessions.Sessions can be conducted in English or in Spanish.MACA likes to use interactive training techniques so participant participation is requested.
Material is provided by a number of resources including Red Cross, WHO, Wheaton College, Dr. Bibiana Mac Leodand several other listed resources.Individuals who have taken the training can take course material to be used within their own communities.There is no charge for the training.
We are able to offer sessions once every two weeks for the next few months or as required. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to show your interest
Che villages in need after two devastating hurricanes hit Nicaragua
Medical Ambassadors Canada and our sister organization Medical Ambassadors International are asking you to consider giving to this emergency situation. More than 300 homes in rural CHE villages were under water after the first of two devastating hurricanes hit Nicaragua last week. Because we have a strong relationship with CHE leaders in this area, we are confident that donations sent through us will go to the biggest needs in the community right now. Please consider giving to this urgent need for our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua by clicking the Donate button and designating your gift to Nicaragua. As always, your donations are eligible for charitable tax receipts through MACA.
Psychological First Aid Training Available now!
MACA has produced online training programs in Psychological First Aid - PFA.
Fires, Hurricanes, War, Floods, Covid19.All of these types of social disruption have an effect on individuals.Psychological First Aid is helpful during these times.Whether we are working for a large aid relief organization or if we are a member of a church or neighbourhood community we can provide Psychological First Aid to those in need
This course is appropriate for churches, international community development workers, community league members, missionaries, and anyone who has an interest. This is just as much for laypeople and volunteers as it is for paid community workers.
Courses will be conducted online (ZOOM) using three, 90 minute sessions, or five one hour sessions.Sessions can be conducted in English or in Spanish.MACA likes to use interactive training techniques so participant participation is requested.
Material is provided by a number of resources including Red Cross, WHO, Wheaton College, Dr. Bibiana Mac Leod, and several other listed resources.Individuals who have taken the training can take course material to be used within their own communities.There is no charge for the training.
We are able to offer sessions once every two weeks for the next few months or as required. Please contact email@example.com to show your interest.
Neighbours helping Neighbours
Millarville Community Church near Calgary, Alberta, has come up with a way of neighbours helping each other in this unprecedented time. There is no need to be a member of the church community to help, or receive help, it is all about showing love to those around us. This is just an example of how communities can come together during the Covid 19 restrictions.
Keep Up To Date on what MACA is doing worldwide
This Blog has been created to allow our field workers to keep you, our partners updated on what God is doing around the world through MACA and CHE.
*Covid 19 UPDATE*
We are aware of the current situation in the world in response to the pandemic of the novel coronavirus COVID 19, and we have called all of our overseas workers home and they will be self-isolating after returning from abroad, which we hope will be by Friday, March 20.
We believe that the CHE initiatives we have around the globe will help to mitigate the loss and suffering during this pandemic and hope to see how our practices can be used for future pandemic planning as well. We all need to depend on our neighbours and community during this time, which is a major tenant of our development work. CHE workers have been teaching hand hygiene, preventative measures and visiting the most vulnerable to make sure they will not be exposed to the virus and have what they adequate supplies deemed necessary for life, like food and water.
We will continue to monitor the situation and will make ourselves available for consultations with various CHE communities and directors via various technological systems we already have in place.
Let's support each other through this, and use it to learn how to better control any future pandemics of this kind.
Life after the earthquake
A narrow road for and snow capped peaks in the distance
Our days in Nepal have rapidly, and busily, passed by. First two days our local director and I rode around Kathmandu visiting several organizations with whom we network – i.e. had taken our training – and some which are now interested. Always inspiring and encouraging to see progress and enthusiasm on their parts, desiring to serve ever more effectively.
Our next 3 days had been scheduled in the plains – but not one of the 3 nights did we sleep where we’d planned! "Alan" and I loaded up our motorcycles and headed out to take the 'scenic route'. We were happy to have our own bikes (more wiggle room). All was going well 4 hours into the ride when on a still-wet-from-the-dew left curve, "Alan" for some reason, applied the rear brake, and down he went. We were doing, oh, maybe 15 mph. Bike was fine, but he’d twisted his knee, and couldn’t put any weight on it. After a bit of coordinating with the trainers we were going to meet, 'Alan' was taken back to Kathmandu where his family was waiting for him. Nothing is broken but he is on crutches and unsure what exactly is injured.
Continuing on without 'Alan', I took one of the trainers on the back of my bike and the other took the bike 'Alan' was riding. The last hour of “twisties” and narrow road – in the dark – was NOT FUN…as much of an enthusiast as I might be. Better part of wisdom dictated stopping when an occasional bus or truck came our way, dust and narrow road – couldn’t see anything…continue when it passed. Eventually arrived safely at the home of another group’s leader in the next town, staying the night…thankful for their hospitality for unexpected guests.
The next day, we set off for the destination, picking up one more trainer on the way. The ride was pretty exciting with some streams forded and dusty, rocky and narrow roads that seemed more like a dirt bike course than a road. Parking our bikes and unloading the stuff at a local friend’s place, we walked the last 45 minutes to our destination – only a footpath along the side of the scenic mountain ridges. This was an area in which the community health and education program has had a huge impact over the years. A local group started, and is growing, as well as reaching out into neighboring communities across the valleys & ridges.
The EARTHQUAKE had damaged homes and several small gathering houses in this district, so it was an area where relief help was given…roofing, small trusses and pillars - the rest they had to build – and they’ve all done so. Below are two meeting houses that have been rebuilt with funds that some of you sent in a year and a half ago. Several other groups also received help from what came in from you. So, from them, again, receive their THANKS! We met two groups … and they both thanked us profusely for the help with these buildings and their houses. Many of these people raise bees for honey – in traditional ways – I even saw two holes on the outside of several newly rebuilt houses – they built boxes into the wall for the bees.As a Thank You gift, they gave us each a jar of honey and a kilo of special hill lentils they had just harvested. The honey I can bring home.
One enthusiastic man we met said our training totally changed his life: thinking and life-style, and how to relate to others. He’s already started meeting with those who are interested on a weekly basis, and asked me to urge the team to get to his place to train his people as soon as possible - and he’d call other friends from up the valley who needed to hear all this!! I just have to include his quote here. We were talking about the kingdom of God and how it was so relevant to our daily lives (i.e. the Lord’s prayer and Jesus' teachings etc). “The kingdom is directly linked to our blood,” he said enthusiastically "…meaning He wants to use us in practical ways to prepare the soil for the kingdom to be planted and grow!!"
After a good curry meal we walked back to our bikes, and descended the hill – harder to go down than up, actually! That night, again, was an unplanned stop-over at another leader’s home who was happy to take us in since it got too late to go to the next place in the dark on that road.
Once back on the main paved road, and after seeing my three good friends to their homes, I said good-bye and headed east, alone, on the main east-west highway, arriving back at the first house we stayed at the day of 'Alan’s' accident. I’d phoned earlier, so this time they expected me. Next morning, Sunday - yesterday, after filling gas and oiling the chain, I headed ‘home’ to Kathmandu, looking forward to the ride again. On the way back up (climbed around 6,000 ft), I counted 76 ‘switch-backs’ in the first 60 miles, with no stretch of that distance being straight for more than 100 yards… took me close to 4 hours – including one tea break, of course, and some picture-taking stops. I never tire of seeing these majestic snow mountains!
We are so thankful for your prayers and financial support which enables us to keep encouraging our brothers & sisters out here.