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Tapping the elders for a disaster preparedness team

Indonesia, January 27, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Juan Christie  </span>
    The mixed participants of the training. Photo: Juan Christie

I travelled three hours from my home base in Padang, Indonesia to the city of Solok to check out the facilitator training for the Disaster Preparedness Teams (DPTs) held by Mercy Corps' PREPARE SumBar and our local partner, Jemari Sakato. The DPTs came from four Padang City sub-districts — Sungai Pisang, Gates Nan XX, Pasia Nan Tigo, and Air Manis. Each subdistrict sent out seven members to this training.

One thing that immediately caught my mind was the composition of the DPTs: among the 28 participants, I saw six young ladies and two elderly men, in addition to some men in their thirties and forties. This is a great start to have people from what are often described as "vulnerable groups" (i.e. youth, children, elderly people and women) represented in the DPTs.

I asked the two elders from the group — 65-year-old Herman and 70-year-old Burhanuddin — about what their motivation had been in joining the DPT. "Being old does not mean that you have to sit around and doing nothing," Herman quickly replied. "I will not do that, not while I still can stand and do something. Joining this DPT is a good exercise for me.”

”I want do something for my community, no matter how little," Burhanuddin added. "Also, I want to learn about disaster to cope with my fear.”

PREPARE SumBar — which is funded by the disaster preparedness arm of the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid department — is training 8 DPTs, 12 SDPTs (School Disaster Preparedness Team) and working with leading government agencies in around the area. With this capacity building, it is expected that the community will be able to face further disasters better, making them more secure and resilient.