There is always something new for us to learn or experience in every disaster response.
Sometimes, we might also have some special touching moments and new understanding.
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| A Submissive Response
As a Christian organisation, we need to have spiritual principle and insight to mobilise churches to respond to disaster. We have to wait patiently before our Lord, deeply believe that He will open the way.
Hence, once again, I’m being led by the Lord.
Foremost, last year August, I suddenly had the urge to conduct disaster respond training for our staffs. Because many of our co-workers had never attended any disaster prevention, risk reduction or disaster response courses. Hence, we gave our staff training for 1 hour every biweekly over 2 months plus. Discussion on some issues or sharing of relevant experiences during classroom session enable team using “common language” and reach consensus in very short period of time.
Secondly, we managed to source a warehouse nearer to our office, which is about 30km away. Originally, we planned to shift within 3 weeks. However, everything went so well that we only took 2 weeks for the shifting. This new warehouse had saved a lot of our time spent in transporting boats, tools and equipment. Later our warehouse was also affected by the flood, but compared with the condition of hard hit area, our loss was considered very minor.
Thirdly, hard hit area Taman Sri Muda is just located next to us, not more than 10km away, we set that as our primary focus area to care and to respond. On the first day when the water receded, my co-workers and myself, were setting off to check out the disaster condition. However, we were blocked at the road junction, due to severe jam caused by heavy traffic, we were forced to retreat. On the way back, I told my co-worker that we should have contacted a local church. Then I received a call from Elder Dexter from Shah Alam Gospel Centre immediately after I reached office, he was inquiring the possibility of working together on disaster respond. The next day when we met, we immediately became acquaintance, later we found out that we actually met twice few days ago, at that time, it was just head nodding greetings. Two strangers who never know each other ended up working together, what a divine appointment.
Heartfelt thanks to God, for He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.
| Sharing good news by actions
This time the flood hit right before Christmas, it caused havoc to many. However, we praised God that many churches seized the opportunity to serve. They are willing to serve the community by sharing the good news by their actions. A church elder asked me: “On 25th Christmas Day and 26th Dec. Christmas Sunday, can we still go out to serve?” I answered honestly: “This is something new to us, we had never before organise disaster respond during Christmas. If the church is willing, then we may proceed as usual.” Later, I discovered, the highest turn out of volunteers were on these two days, especially Sunday
| Disaster Relief “New Wineskin”
This flood came as a disaster amidst another disaster. COVID-19 was not over yet, hence we were facing double challenges, visible mud and rubbish and invisible virus. Therefore, we need to add in Pandemic Preventive SOP in our disaster relief operation to protect our volunteers and aid recipients. I am very thankful that all volunteers were very cooperative, they understood why do we need to implement new measures. Just like the slogan introduced by our Government in countering COVID-19 pandemic, “Kita Jaga Kita”.
In every disaster relief, we will face different problems, work with different group of people, hence faced with different needs. This time is not an exception, on one of those nights that we had meetings, many questions were raised, I spoke out bluntly, disaster response is like “clearing obstacles” one after another, disaster victims are clearing their obstacles, we are clearing our obstacles, everyone is clearing their own obstacles. Therefore, once we encounter problems or obstacles, we can only use the best possible way under current circumstances to solve it.
| Interaction between Church and Community
Taman Sri Muda is consider as a big residential area within a city, way back in 90’s, it had experienced a severe flood before. As, this area is next to an industrial zone, therefore residents living here are mainly laborers from grassroot families. Due to pandemic, many of them are already in financially shaky condition, in addition to the flood, the shaky hut totally shattered, many households instantly fell into financial deep pit. Over here, you can get a peek of urban poverty, many submerged cars were abundant as their owners can’t afford the repairing cost, broken electrical goods were unable to be replaced, worse till some houses were in such bad shape that even after cleaned up are still unlivable. Children is another concern, their scantily toys, school bags and books, were destroyed just as all the adults. Besides material needs, disaster victims’ emotional needs were vast too.
What should the church do,
when we face with such big needs?
We encourage the church to do qualitative companionship and care for those who need it, rather than macro scale of touch and go charity kind of relief work. Every church can adopt one area, care according to its capacity. We might not be able to help everyone, but we still can help disaster victims around us, especially the poor and underprivileged families. However, this model requires the commitment of the church for at least 2 months. Volunteer is easier to recruit during urgent disaster relief stage of cleaning and distributing goods, but when enter into recovery and rebuilding stage, it is much more difficult to recruit suitable personnel. Therefore, I hope churches or Christians can see disaster response as a medium or long term ministry. We might not be the first to enter the disaster zone, but we can be the last to leave the disaster zone.
这次的大水灾发生在圣诞节之前，让人有点措手不及。但是，感恩，很多教会主动寻找服事的机会。他们愿意服务社区，以行动来报佳音。教会长老问我：“在12月25至26日圣诞节和圣诞主日，我们是否能继续动员服务？” 我答：“这对我们来说，是史无前例。因为没有碰过圣诞节期间赈灾的情况。只要教会肯，我们照常服务。” 后来发现，这两天，尤其是主日，是出现最多志工的一天。
此次的水灾，是灾中灾。新冠肺炎还未过去，我们面对双重挑战，可见的污泥垃圾和看不见的病毒。因此，为了保护志工和受助者，在救灾过程上要加入防疫SOP。感谢志工们都很合作，谅解我们实施一些新的措施。正如政府为对抗冠状病毒疫情，提出的口号“Kita Jaga Kita”。
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