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One year after the earthquake, a measure of relief

Indonesia, September 29, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Juan Christie/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Shooting the emergency distribution training video. Photo: Juan Christie/Mercy Corps

Today, September 30 here in West Sumatra, Indonesia, brings remembrance of the earthquake a year ago that killed more than 1,000 people and affected the livelihoods of an estimated 1.25 million more. It's also a reminder of all the work the Mercy Corps team has done here since then — and there has been a lot.

Recently, I paused in my work to feel a measure of happiness and a relief when we finally got our hands on a long-awaited Distribution Training Video. The video has been shot in the field during the last days of distribution to earthquake survivors at the end of February 2010. Ever since, Nigel Harvey — the director — had been spending long hours in editing.

The film was meant to be used as a training video by Mercy Corps' global team on how to do a good distribution during an emergency. It was voiced and sub-titled in English for that purpose, but we also got to thinking of having it voiced and sub-titled in Indonesian as well.

In this close-to-30-minute video, we try to capture every single thing that's required in preparing a distribution — starting from the survey, through preparation of the supplies, until the distribution. In the end, we added a little bit about handling the crowd surge that is likely to happen during any distribution.

We actually had a lot of fun filming, having the beneficiaries involved in the live distribution process. Mercy Corps staff were involved as the key actors in the distribution. We even included our West Sumatra Director, Erynn Carter and our Country Director, Sean Granville-Ross, to share their advice in the video.

Personally, I considered myself lucky, because I was deeply involved in the making of the video as a part of my communications job. I had the chance to work with a professional like Nigel, which was a valuable experience for me. I would never imagine how lights and shadows are such essentials in video making, as well as being fully prepared — including having extra fully-charged batteries and bringing extra cameras. Those were the best two weeks I've had so far in this job.

Oh, by the way, the video is titled “People Come First, But Planning Makes It Better." I think it's a powerful title that depicts how we should always put people first in every emergency intervention that we do as a humanitarian organization, and how we can empower survivors by having good and thorough planning.