An imaginary earthquake scenario in Manila and a flooding situation in Laguna were two case studies that tested the mettle of Non-Government Organizations involved with disaster relief. Organized by the Welfare Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, partner organizations participated actively in the day long Calamity Response Workshop held 31 July at the Church Area Office in Greenmeadows, Quezon City.
Participating were LDS Charities (LDSC), Catholic Relief Services(CRS) , OxFam International, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), GMA Kapuso, the Philippine Marines, Family Network (FamNet) and Humanitarian Response Center (HRC). This important “disaster conference” helped the NGOs to understand what each group does and how they implement their programs. It also made them see how partnerships can be mutually beneficial in order to leverage the limited resources available.
Todd Tapp, the Director of Temporal Affairs in the Area Office, welcomed the humanitarian groups and quoted from Jesus Christ that “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” He also gave the parable of the Good Samaritan and the two great commandments: love God and your fellow men.
Each NGO then gave a presentation on how they respond to calamities. They shared their strengths and concerns and gave information about what they offer in an emergency response situation. Phone numbers and emails were shared so there could be good communication and effort. All of the NGOs were excited that by working together they could help the people who were devastated by calamities.
The main objective of the conference was to find ways to coordinate efforts and combine resources, and thus avoid duplication in their attempts to help the people. Kevin Lee from HRC said, “Information needs to be disseminated, data needs to be gathered, plans and teams formed, and finally, the goods and services deployed.”
It was unanimously agreed that this workshop should be held annually. Everyone left the conference rooms with new mutual respect for each other. Aido Ortilano from ADRA said,” It was good and enhancing. We learned to develop cooperation. We learned to combine efforts.”
Rose Lehorre and Gary Aperocho of GMA Kapuso said, ”We gained knowledge on different protocol in different situations. We need to learn strategies in coordination.”