As part of my duties for the media team, I have been required to write a terminal report about the team's progress in the community. I decided to put it on here so that you could all see the 'big picture' about what I've been doing in Cabiao for 3 months. Sorry for the 'formal' tone! My writing sounds so bleak when sarcasm is absent...
TEAM CASE STUDY:
For the past 12 weeks I have been working as a VSO volunteer in the Philippines, helping with flood prevention and preparedness. The community where I have been working- the Municipality of Cabiao- is one of the lowest areas of Nueva Ecija and at times, the area serves as a catchment for all the flood waters of the province. This is further aggravated by the frequency of monsoon and cyclone rains that visit the area every year. When we first arrived in the Cabiao, there was no solid disaster risk reduction management plan that would reduce the community's vulnerability to the risk of flooding. The main aim of the ICS programme was to create a 5-year community-based DRRM plan for Cabiao. By working alongside the community we have developed a plan for the worst case scenario of flooding- so that the community is always fully prepared.
The role of youth volunteers was crucial in making the plan ‘community-based’. To cover the whole of Cabiao's 72,000 citizens, the 20 of us divided into cluster groups and spread out within the community, working closely with 3/4 barangays. Our job was to collect, process and organise community knowledge via interviews, workshops and community risk assessment days. By extracting local knowledge we have been able to make the plan specific and effective for each barangay. Also, due to our partnership with the government, the team has sought to strengthen relationships and communication lines between the barangay and the municipal hall. This has extended out into the local community due to team’s affiliation with several local businesses including ‘TM’, ‘SaveMore’, ‘ABC Pizza’ and ‘KAI's catering services.’ Engineer Hipolito, DRRM vocal spokesperson in the town, described our achievements: 'Before, we are not organised. After the team came here, we are now organised. We have moved from 0 to 1, and hopefully we can keep progressing.”
The team was also involved in volunteer awareness and recruitment, in order to build up a local DRRM volunteer network. The mayor of Cabiao, Hon. Gloria 'baby' Crespo commented on the efforts of the team: 'Activities conducted by ICS volunteers mean a lot and really helps to raise awareness in the community.' Our events included life-jacket making, the sale of VSO charity t-shirts and a community ‘fun run’. One local student from Cabiao National High School described the team's activities as 'unique' and ‘eye-catching’. These activities not only helped to increase community awareness of disaster risk reduction management but they also encouraged the youth of Cabiao to become volunteers. Community member, Pauline Gonzalez, said: “this fun run was different from other fun runs. The runners here are really running for a cause.” Another notable success of the team was the ‘Disaster Dance-off’ competition. What was particularly amazing was the way the youth engaged with the theme: 'disaster.' The dance troops made a real effort to reflect 'disaster' in their costumes, props, music and choreography. We have managed to catch the attention of the community because of our enthusiasm, optimism and ‘out of the box’ approach to the work and as a result, have stimulated an attitude towards positive change.
I think that it is very difficult to measure ‘change’, particularly in the short-term. But I do feel certain that that our ICS team has planted the seeds for change, because we have inspired the community to help themselves, encouraging the youth of Cabiao to volunteer and help their community with future DRRM activities. Change is an ongoing process but I’d like to think that Cabiao is on its way to positive change.
N.B. The photos show the team presenting the DRRM plan for 2015-2020 to the Mayor of Cabiao.