And all of a sudden we’re on the home stretch of the Forum. It’s amazing thinking of how many incredible experiences and stories we have shared between the 80 participants in such a short amount of time. Today we are all madly preparing to give one or more presentation, and it’s this flurry of action and energy fanning the flames of enthusiasm that brings me the most inspiration. It’s a rare situation when you can look at a world of terrible terrible situations and only see the positives that flow out of them – and today is that time for all of us. Collectively, 25 action plans are being developed and presented, ranging from waste reduction initiatives in the Philippines; disaster education library foundations in Indonesia with assistance from New Zealand; and a 2nd generation documentary project from our Australian friends from the first forum. The innovation and creativity is incredible.
Screaming along beside action plan preparations is the redrafting of the Forum Communique. The idea of this now also second generation document, has been developed by a diverse group representing Nigeria, Finland, Colombia, New Zealand (Twice!), Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It is looking at being a 10 page document that encapsulates the fundamental values and beliefs shared by the wider group, as well as a series of recommendations surrounding different topics of thought in relation to disasters (Education, Science, Media and communication, Government, Youth action; intersecting the preparation/reduction, response and recovery phases of disasters). The argument is that we are all micro-experts in the field of disaster resilience, and it is our responsibility to push for our collective knowledge to be heard and acted upon. Quite an exciting and enriching process to be involved with.
By the time this entry gets uploaded, most of the NZ delegation will be safely back home, having made final presentations, recieved certificates, videos, hugs, laughter, photos, music, dancing, fireworks, tears of joy and sad farewells that transform into excited ‘see you soon’s. . Having limited to no internet access has posed various challenges, but moreover it has provided us all with a chance to forget about everything that is happening in ‘real life’. Being in a completely foreign setting with people from 14 countries and twice as any languages ensures that learning is unavoidable, consistent, and a team effort. I think it is safe to say that we are all monumentally grateful for the generous support we received in making this trip, and the ongoing guidance and support from Vicki Soanes and the organisations she so ably represents. Without this support each one of us would be 25 steps behind where we are now personally, professionally, and with each of our chosen directions for action. Straddling the divide between ‘youth’ and ‘adult’ has provided me chance to engage at both levels, which has been exceptionally rewarding as an aspiring facilitator. We return home resfreshed, energised, inspired, and enthusiastic about the contributions we are going to make to Christchurch individually and as a collective. For this we are exceptionally grateful.
To summarise, I’ll paraphrase a 16 year old boy called ‘CJ from the Philippines’ who captured all 80 of our experiences and lessons into one phrase that continues to resonate throughout my thoughts.
“The bamboo, it moves with the wind and does not break. We must learn to be like the bamboo, so that when disaster comes we can also move with it, and never break.”