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Young Hands and Hearts Work toward Community Resilience

“I’ve always been interested in learning how I can save lives – in learning how to rescue other people in the face of disasters. I am thankful to CDP and UNICEF for teaching us to be able to do that. By attending their trainings, not only was I able to make new friends, but now, my community is better prepared for disasters. They really helped us a lot,” says Aldrean Garchitorena on the project that taught young people like him how to dream big for their community’s resilience. The project, which was dubbed “Disaster Risk Reduction through Education and Managing Barangay Integrated Goals toward Disaster-Resilient Communities and Schools in Basud and Paracale (DRREAM BIG),” was an initiative that advocated Community-Based Child-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CB CCDRRM). This two-year partnership programme was primarily implemented by the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) and UNICEF in four focus barangays in the two aforesaid localities.

Aldrean, 16, is one of the many passionate youngsters who took part in the project, and has taken on an active role toward the achievement of his community’s safety and resilience. Growing up in a community that’s usually ravaged by disasters, Aldrean saw the DRREAM BIG project as a great opportunity for his own village, Barangay Dalnac, not only to enhance its level of preparedness but also to build a culture of safety and resilience, especially among the children and youth. Even at an early age, he realized the need to educate and strengthen his barangay to make it more disaster-resilient for the children and youth who will shape the future – the leaders of tomorrow.

Serving as another excellent example to his peers is 20-year old Jude Michael Miralo, a provincial and municipal youth leader in Barangay San Felipe, Basud who has dared to dream big for his community’s resilience. He has served his community by leading his peers in the youth group called ‘4H Club’. Jude avers that, “4H stands for Hands, Heart, Health, and Head, which symbolizes our passion and concern for the environment and the community.” According to him, the 4H Club aims to influence the youth positively by organizing various projects that bring them closer to nature and veer from harmful vices. He shares, “Before DRREAM BIG came along, our projects were focused mainly on

agriculture to encourage the youth to be more aware and involved in community affairs and discourage them to succumb to vices like drinking and drug use.”

Having been an active youth leader since the 4th grade, Jude recognizes the vital role that the children and youth play in the planning as well as policy and decision-making processes in the community, particularly in preparing for disasters. He affirms that, “The children and youth should always be involved in all matters relevant to DRRM. In every plan and activity, adults should always consider the roles and needs of the young people. If they want to build a resilient community, they should definitely engage the youth every step of the way.”

Leading by example, Jude participated in various DRREAM BIG activities, inspiring his peers to join in as well. He says, “Apart from the various trainings and re-echoing sessions, to me, the most significant activities were those that highlighted the voice of the youth; where we were given the opportunity to share the concerns we deemed most important. The Youth Convergence, Citizen Journalism training, and Flood Drill certainly stood out for me. During the drill, I was given the responsibility of informing and alerting my neighbors of the impending hazard, while my peers from the 4H Club were tasked to oversee the child-friendly spaces in the evacuation area.”

To Jude, the drill not only helped his whole community apply what they learned in the myriad trainings that CDP and UNICEF had conducted, but it also underscored how the children and youth can indeed be active participants and stakeholders in the process of DRRM, which he witnessed in the other activities of the DRREAM BIG project as well. This, in his eyes, signifies the birth of a new breed of young leaders that can better influence and shape their community to be safer and more resilient. Acknowledging the impact the DRREAM BIG project has engendered, Jude imparts, “Thanks to DRREAM BIG, we now understand and realize the huge importance of the different sectors in the community like women, older persons, and persons with disabilities. Now, we can see how their needs, similar to ours, are imperative to the journey toward community resilience. We must work toward addressing these needs if we are to build a disaster-resilient community”

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