European Volunteers for Response of Emergencies in the Caribbean

Barbados – First 3 days

So, me and my team , Team Charlie, we are in Barbados. In the first two days two we organized a workshop covering the follwing themes :

Volunteer management – History of Italian volunteering service and cost/benefit analysis – presenter  Alessandra Calcara – ICPD
Volunteer management – Romanian volunteering service, best practices and lessons learned – presenter Beniamin Dragos – Romanian Red Cross Vice President
Volunteer management – recruitment – presenter Matteo Vischi – Italian Red Cross South Tyrol Civil Protection delegate and Apostu George Ciprian – Romanian Red Cross Brasov youth coordinator (me)
How to keep volunteers active and motivated during peacetime –  presenter Giuseppe Bolzoni – Italian Red Cross WASH national delegate  and Apostu George Ciprian – Romanian Red Cross Brasov youth coordinator
Volunteer management – Code of conduct and principles of voluntarism – presenter Lorenzo S. Massucchielli – Italian Red Cross Regional cooperation delegate

The workshop was moderated by the Italian Civil Protection Department and by CIMA Research Foundation, represented by Daria Palumbo and Davide Miozzo respectively.

We had a very good time with our participants. The workshop was held at DEM ( Department of Emergency Management). Participants were very interested in our presentation.

After the Workshop we the training for trainiers began. I presented the first module on “How to organize a lesson”. At the begging of the training I was a little bit nervous because it was the fist time when I had to speak in front of such an audience.

 

 

 

However, after 5 minutes the emotions faded out. Overall the training went very good. With the help of Lorenzo ( the teamleader) and the help of my colleagues we succeed to make a great training.

 

After  the training I recieved the congratulations of  the participants for beeing a great trainer. I

Volunteer Management Workshop at DEM

Team Charlie – Day 2 in Barbados

One of our most important tasks here in Barbados is to work toghether with representatives of Regional Civil Protection Organisation to implement the volunteer system as capacity building element. Experience exchange and discussion about volunteers’ framework, recruitment and motivation in peace time has been the main goal of this interesting workshop at the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) in Bridgetown, where all the participants (team charlie members too) had the possibility to collect useful inputs for the work in the next future. A tight agenda today but the feedback worths the effort of working overnight to prepare the presentions and to define the last details.

Team Charlie – Day 1 in Barbados

The Team Charlie (Beniamin, George, Eugen, Giuseppe, Matteo, Daria, Alessandra and “the veteran” Davide) in the shuttle with the driver Ronald towards Bridgetown to prepare with CIMH the Volunteer Management Workshop scheduled for the next two days with the participation of the institutional Representatives of Barbados.  It gets to the heart of the business, despite the jet lag…

The first emotion and the last glance

The first emotion and the last glance

Landing in Grenada we were looking out from our side window and thinking of which contribution from our experience we might have offered to the local communities. Now,  at take off, looking from the same window, we are more than sure that we gave as much as possible of our commitment without saving energies and that what we, the Team Bravo,  received during the last meeting with Mr. Terence, Ms.  Mauryn, NaDMA Staff, Communities and people met in the last two weeks is extraordinary and priceless.

I take with me, on mission, my notebook where  thoughts, ideas, impressions are reported; every day there are notes and emotions shared in the team, starting with the first meeting with Mr. Terence till the last presentation of the work done, including the data base  and the Disaster Plan.
The notebook contains the preliminary study of the Grenada Disaster Plan structure, including the visit to the shelter, some ideas offered to the Communities stressing the importance of the protection of territory, the need for associationism rather than individualism and the advantages of exchanging ideas so that the community itself is able to respond to emergencies.

Other notes are referring to the creation of the data base, with the suggestions from Marco, districts indications and names, responsible and voluntary people met as well as the indication for data ingestion and processing.  Also Skype conferences with Charlie are reported in order to start immediately the team building including recommendation for recruitment of volunteers and the preliminary training that Charlie can develop.

Here is the day of practice actions at the airport, two hours under the Carribean sun without-a-protective cream sunshine; hard but worthwhile.

We say, in Italy, “ tutto il

The emergency response also in Carriacou

The team is now engaged in different areas, Imre and Danilo left for Barbados, while the rest of us is getting prepared for Carriacou. A careful preparation will allow us to understand better the island of coral reefs, as the Carib Indians named it.
Our main tasks for Carriacou are disaster planning and team building, since we want to enhance coordination and communication among the volunteers in order to bring them together to write their own district emergency plan. Yes, planning! In Carriacou we would like the volunteers to start building their own plan, following the example of the St. Andrews district team.
The team is made only of Italian, but it is accompanied by Terence Walters, whose proposal is that of also involving Carriacou in the process of planning and preparedness started by NaDMA.

The boat trip is amazing; we hug the incredible west coast of the island. Day by day we are discovering more in depth the environment and the nature of this country; we are not used to it, but it is helping us to better understand people and their habits, and this is making our work more pleasant. The sea becomes more and more rough while we pass by Kick’em Jenny, the active underwater volcano; nevertheless our stomachs endure quite well the crossing.

Once moored, we are brought immediately to the Permanent Secretary, whose interest for our mission is strong and even more highlighted by the presence of the only women on the Team. Driving along the island we are marveled by its beauty, more wild than Grenada, but with an incredible sky-blue sea, as we always saw in the Caribbean post cards.

The driver brought us to the NaDMA district office, a small shelter

The thrill of being able to bring our experience.

The thrill of being able to bring our experience.

The days go by and the work intensifies. Working with Terence Walters, National Disaster Coordinator, NaDMA staff and with the team, it is challenging but also exciting, and although there are few breaks, stress and fatigue are not felt.
 We continue to analyze the existing system, build a database in order to better manage volunteers, implement the District Disaster Plans and evaluate the existing Shelter guidelines.
 Friends of Team Alfa warned us, “when you will make site inspections and meetings with the community, you will be able to appreciate the beauty of these places, its flavors and landscapes, and people’s kindness”. Like when we visited the operations room built by USAID, with the most advanced construction techniques, in one of the safest and inland areas of the island, or when visiting the Marian Shelter Prototype and Multipurpose Center, St. George South East, where we could taste the sweet Caribbean plums that grow normally in the gardens of the island.
The shelter was built after Hurricane Ivan of 2004 following the criteria set for an emergency shelter, which is a good example to be replicated. Our analysis and discussion lasted long in order to get the real picture of what happens during an hurricane such as Ivan was, and how natural events so shocking, have significantly changed habits of this wonderful island.
There is a clear awareness that despite being a little island, they are not alone during disasters. The solidarity of other countries is necessary and important, and in our case, it is important to bring our experience of European Volunteers. As we have experienced in the community of St. Andrews, where we met 20 local volunteers, being a

The beginning of our mission

 
After many days of work and Skype meetings finally the entire Team meets in London. It has been exciting to find those people with whom we shared a few months ago the intense and constructive pre-deployment course. Our work started immediately at Gatwick airport and the preparation continued during the flight, as we were full of expectations and willingness to do a good job.
 
Landed in Grenada the Team, amazed by the beauty of the country, started working straight away. Our Caribbean colleagues Terence Walters, National Disaster Coordinator, and the NaDMA (National Disaster Management Agency) staff, demonstrated from the very begin great hospitality and willingness to work together in order to improve Grenada resilience.
 
The job division has allowed us to plan the development of several topics and tasks; particularly, we started analyzing the existing system and, starting from there, to build a database in order to better manage volunteers. The Team, together with the NaDMA staff, discussed also implementation of District Disaster Plans and evaluation of existing Shelter guidelines.
 
Our first days have been exhausting but this hasn’t stopped us from spending together some free time at dinner and from having the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of Grenada and the spontaneity and openness of its inhabitants.
 
Day by day we understand the emergency management system of this country and its specificities and we are working hard to support them in developing some of its features, never forgetting local customs, their habits and their culture.
 
The coming days will be challenging for Bravo Team, but we are strongly motivated to give our best for this wonderful country, and we are confident that what we will deliver here will make a difference!
 

 
Greetings from the spice island
 
Attilio
 

 

Thanks Alpha Team

Missing four days at the start of the Bravo team, the prep work is very intense, but thanks to the reports of the Alpha Team is all easier.

Thank you NaDMA, thank you Grenada

03/04/2014 by Annalisa Bergantini – Anpas

It seems like we left Europe a month ago, but it’s only ten days.

It’s always difficult in such intense missions, when a day lasts 16 hours, to  remember the details you lived, that talk you had with somebody. Sometimes you don’t remember a name, sometimes you don’t remember a face anymore.

But you feel like you have the pieces collected here and there, and at a certain  point they start to outline something that is so much clearer than only ten days ago.

 

In Grenada we’ve been sponges, absorbing and absorbing from the people we met in the communities. We’ve been a river flowing together with the children running up to the hill for the Tsunami drill.

We observed trying not invade any space, trying not to “sell dreams” or “copy and paste”, as our team leader Markus like to say, our models and mental schemes.

And we discovered opened doors, people talking with us so frankly, showing their needs, their difficulties, but also their desire to make a change and to be the change. Not only when a disaster strikes, but even more when nothing happens, during the so called peace times. We found a sort of hunger for exchange of ideas and development of new ones, and sharing of tools.

We found a strong committment from the National Disaster Management Agency, from all its staff. They spent with us entire days, coming with us to meet the communities, sitting in the office to discuss future activities for the incoming teams, and identyfying their own needs, as the National Disaster Management Agency. «If you strenght the agency, you strenght the whole community» told us Ms. Mauryn at the end of our last meeting.

Words that made

All people live on the same planet

“All people live on the same planet”  and in emergency there are not borders
for solidarity, tells us Victoria, a  (National Disaster Management Agency) NADMA’s staff lady                                                                                                  just before greet all of us with a warmest hug.

Those words sounds on our heads returning to the hotel,
meanwhile a wonderful sunset remarks the end of our stay on the spice
island.

Why people becomes volunteer?

The answer, as volunteers ourselves, it
would seem simple, but it isn’t at all.
Lots of reasons pushing a man, a woman, young people to devote part of
their lives to the others, to the community and especially to strange people…                                                                                                          “all people live on the same planet”, as Victoria said.

A Mike Meranski’s song about Grenada, titled “That’s Ivan” says ”                                                                                                                                  “it took houses old