Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bangon, Pilipinas

The typhoons are getting stronger every year. Places in the country that didn't even use to have strong typhoons are starting to get hit. And according to some people connected to Volcanological studies, Metro Manila is due a strong earthquake soon. I sure hope not. But the point is we already know calamities are coming. They've been coming non-stop for the past few years. It's very heartening to see the bayani, the hero, surface from within our people in times like this. And this is why I think the time is right that we seriously sat down and put together something that addresses the fact that the calamities will only get stronger, and go beyond just responding to them after we get hit. We can do this. I've seen the hero within our people. We have the heart for this. It's not easy, but it can be done.

At this point, I'm still imagining. But If we were to make this volunteer organization, it will have five units.

The first unit is the Emergency Response Unit. This unit is the one that is mobilized during the calamity. It will be composed of two team types: the Emergency Strategists, who are in charge of intelligence and strategy; and the Frontliners, who are trained able-bodied men deployed on ground zero during or right after a calamity to help physically save lives. An organization that can be tapped and trained here is the Boy Scouts.

The second unit is the Relief Unit. This unit is composed of six teams: Packing Coordinators, Association Ambassadors, Relief Strategists, Deployment, Research and Medical, and Encouragers. The Packing Coordinators will organize efforts to acquire relief goods and get volunteers to help pack them for deployment. If there is a super typhoon warning ahead of time, the packing team can start even before it hits. The Association Ambassadors' job is to coordinate with various Industry Associations, as wells as businesses, to get help in terms of transportation and goods. Relief Strategists work right after the calamity. Their job is to assess the situation and strategize the best possible way of deploying relief. The Deployment team is the one who actually goes to ground zero bringing the relief to the affected. With them is the Research and Medical Team, who is composed of doctors, nurses and scientists whose job is to take care of the hurt and also study what happened for future use. The last group, the Encouragers team, is also deployed with the Deployment team. And while they will also help distribute relief goods, their main purpose is to speak encouragement and bring hope. Their job is to go among the people and talk to them, sing with them, and even cry with them.

The third unit is the Prep Unit. Prep and Relief overlaps. Part of the Packing team is already part of the Prep Unit, and so are the Association Ambassadors. The job of the Prep Unit is to prepare relief even before calamity strikes. The fastest way to deploy relief would be to have some of the relief items and a skeleton crew of Response and Deployment already on ground before the calamity. The issue is just how to keep both the team and the relief items safe during the calamity so, having them on ground prior to calamity will be on a case-to-case basis. Another thing to consider would be to have the army rations as the on-ground relief items. These things keep to up to five years. So, maybe we can keep a few thousands of these in a water- and fire-proof vault in each of the 13 regions so that they can be deployed right after the calamity while waiting for aid outside of the affected cities.

The fourth unit is the Rebuild Unit, which works long term after the calamity. So, in other words, this unit will be active all year round. This unit will target the rebuilding of the cities' physical, social, and business infrastructure. The Physical Infra team will coordinate with architects, engineers and schools to come up with house designs designed to withstand the usual calamities the country is faced with. They will also coordinate with Habitat and Gawad Kalinga for the actual rebuilding. The Social Infra team will coordinate with churches and non-government organizations to help develop a routine and a sense of normalcy among the affected. The Business Infra team will be composed of social entrepreneurs whose job is to develop profitable and sustainable business for the industries in the affected areas.

The last unit is the Innovation and Prevention Unit. Like Rebuild, this unit runs all year round. It will be composed of Environmental Scientists including meteorologists, volcanologists, geologists and physicists whose job is to study what causes the unnaturally strong calamities and find ways of reducing lessen their strength. The unit will also have Architects and Engineers, whose job is to check on existing infrastructure and develop ways of improving them in anticipation of coming calamities. This unit will also have Industry partners for research in terms of innovation and prevention.

And those are the five. The organization itself will be structured like Soroptimist: you have one national Governor who oversees the entire organization, but the whole organization is broken down to smaller self-sufficient groups, each with its own Head. These groups can be chartered by any existing member, and chartering is, in fact, encouraged. The aim is to have at least one group in each region. Ideally, one in each city. There will be trainings and seminars throughout the year to equip the volunteers. And there will be collaborations with several foreign organizations to make sure this volunteer organization is updated withe the latest nation-building technologies and learnings out there.

These are my thoughts. What are yours?