Communicating with communities

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By Giano M. Libot

I have issues

Thursday, July 3, 2014


"COMMUNICATION leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing," once said by Rollo May, an American psychologist.

May breaks down the heart of communication quite beautifully in this sweeping statement, whereas we often confuse information and communication brilliantly weaves the heart of all our communication efforts, which is simply not to give out, but to break through, to commune, and eventual to value.

Last week, some 25 Camp leaders living in the Transitional Shelters in Western Leyte were taught basic community organizing, volunteerism and communication. It was a workshop of sorts handled by the International Organization for Migration in Ormoc.

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Quite often our concepts of communities are always founded by accident. Very rarely to do a select group of families really gather together to declare themselves as communities, most of this is often only a privilege to those who have the means, like wealth and property. Most communities are just collections of accidental and incidental merging of people. In the case after Yolanda, the bunkhouse settlers were forcefully displaced because of the Typhoon, and now gather together under one village not out of their own right and decision.

The design of the workshop saw the leaders of the camps get acquainted with the concept of community, and why it was important to understand communities are at the front line of any disaster, and because of this they have to prepare as a group. Resilience building becomes a key component not just in recovery but also in preparation, there will be many more storms to confront and it is key for them to be united to overcome such hurdles.

Something already set as a lesson learned for a place like Cagayan de Oro for example, where not just the Local Government but even the people in many previously affected communities have took on the initiative to be resilient as well, model management has been the corner stone of many of the villages built after Sendong, Xavier Ecoville comes to mind – putting an emphasis on people not figures in their efforts to make sure everyone contributes to the sustainability of their village.

Building a community in post-Yolanda has its share of challenges, and it was important to drive the point that leaders and members in the workshop, that they have to work together to form not just a group, but a community, One where the diversity is joined together under the umbrella of good.

Community and Communication are not merely similar words by accident, they share a heart, and in some sense they borrow meanings from each other. In this sense we all hope that all disaster preparedness initiatives never leave out communities, and more importantly always involve effective communication.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 03, 2014.

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