“It is more common to plan for success
than planning for failure”
THE FRAGILITY OF PEOPLE
Two years ago last April, it seemed like the whole of New Zealand was gripped and affected by the deaths of six young Elim Christian High school students and one of their teachers. During a field outing, they all had become trapped by rapidly rising waters which swept them away in a flooded gorge.
Two years on from that horrible tragedy the Elim Christian school community is regarded, and will always now be known in the minds of many, as a community which has in its DNA great resolve and fortitude. In other words, this particular community has that bounce back quality. In using a biblical analogy, they ’can weather the storms.’
Going back three more years and further up the western hemisphere on the other side of the world, we’re reminded of the city of New Orleans’ confrontation with the full force of Hurricane Katrina. In its aftermath, we all witnessed that episode expose its surrounding communities to the vulnerability of its so-called ‘disaster plan’, or sheer lack of it. Its disaster and relief infrastructure, and importantly, the fragility of its own people were pried open for the entire world to see. It wouldn’t have been an abnormal event but for the fact this happened in the United States.
Equally can also be said of the recent earthquake in Haiti, and more recently, the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast of Mexico which is now estimated to costing British Petroleum over US$ 30-billion in repairs and reparations. Couple that with the latest monsoon flooding disaster in Pakistan that has affected 3.2 million people and killed up to 1,500; it seems clear that countries and communities around the world need to have a greater sense of resolve to react and recover quickly – one based on preventative measures and those es-tablished to prepare for such tragic circumstances.
Domestically, communities the world over are inc-reasingly having to deal with their own local issues and challenges in only the best way they can man-age, which isn’t much as we’ve seen. Whether it’s an unavoidable natural disaster, poverty, the clo-sure of an industry plant in their area, high unem-ployment, disengaged youth, poor housing, domes-tic violence, drug and alcohol abuse, child abuse, or just the overall breakdown of families and family connectedness, just to name a few.
Building the resilience factor of communities is a natural consequence for any local or national government as it works in partnership with those communities towards achieving growth and development. Often, the measuring stick of suc-cess these agencies focus on is on economic and social outcomes – increased opportunities in the job market, growing business opportunities, availability of key resources in education, health and affordable housing, stronger family units, greater service support mechanisms and opportunities for young people. But a community’ resilience also thrives on the fact that they are actually adequately prepared to bounce back quickly from adverse situations and not only for when times are normal or good.
TIMES OF DIFFICULTY AND STRESS
Faith in Families Foundation is focused on building both its own operating ca-pabilities and relationships base with a clear eye towards assisting community development organisations and families build their own resilience capacities by ensuring that, a myriad of key resources are developed and accessible for them. This naturally involves a high level of social capital for communities concerned, be it at the local family level or amongst the collective, especially during times of difficulty and stress. As one of our associated partners, Sam Chapman, says often enough, “it’s not only about working from a ‘strengths’ base, but also from a ‘future’ base perspective.”
The emphasis for us, therefore, is being proactive with all other parties we are in touch or do work with and continually planning, preparing, interacting and growing communities for the future, ones that help them identify and better handle the challenges they may face be it environmental, economic, social, political, or domestic.
Communities who learn to become resilient are capable of bouncing back from adverse situations and, in doing so, builds upon their coping mechanisms and resolve to recover and move on. They do this by actively identifying, influencing and preparing for change, adverse or otherwise. When a situations are bad, as they often turn out to be at times, resilient communities can call upon a myriad of resources that prepares them to recover from most anything that comes their way. But, they first need to have it in place to be called upon when needed.
This principle isn’t limited to provincial or national responses but also to indiv-idual households themselves – awareness of what community resources are av-ailable in times of emergencies; having an appropriate information and com-munication network infrastructure in place; developing community-based groups of people that spring to action when needs arise; practicing good budget planning and savings which can be called upon to meet unforeseen needs; parents investing more time in their children’s ongoing development and in preparation for times of emergencies; and, husbands and wives embracing every opportunity to discover for themselves what keys to use in strengthening their marriage thus enabling them to take on roles as partners in their wider community.
I’m convinced that resilient and prepared individuals leads to resilient and prepared communities, provinces and nations. It’s a matter of just learning the principles and applying it to themselves.
Community resiliency. Their survival and those of their loved ones depend on it.
Submitted By: | Fred Astle | 08 August 2010 |