In Disaster and Emergency Management.
It took me several months to get my ish together and decide.
I had a discussion with the programme person and they mentioned that the course was mainly for practitioners already in EMD.
She asked whether I had experience or prior knowledge, as the content is quite intense.
With my very serious dontfuggtome face, I told her:
"Of course, I have extensive experience in disasters. I lived through cyclones, volunteered in the aftermath of a tsunami, I am involved in fundraising efforts after each disaster and more importantly, I am from a Samoan family. That makes me a resilient survivor of all kinds of disasters chooohooo"
jokes but really
She didn't laugh. Clearly my sick humour isn't going to be much use in class. aikae ia se,
What I didn't tell her was and is partially why I chose to do this is:
"I have extensive knowledge of the shitty content that arrive into the Pacific region and elsewhere after a disaster, some of which include expired cans of fruit salad and beetfoot, broken furniture, long johns and ski boots".
This got me thinking about my actual real experiences of emergency and disasters.
Vi tree fall.
One of my early memories of an emergency is when a male from my village climbed a tree one Sunday afternoon and subsequently fell more than 10 meters to the rocky ground.
The only vehicle at the time of the accident, belonged to a school principal who was drunk at the bar down the road. So essentially, a drunk driver drove the fallen guy to the hospital, where there was no Doctor anyway.
The above incident was summarised well by the mother of the victim:
"Ua afu a lega le kou soli aso Sa. This all happened because you climbed a tree on the day of the Lord."
In other words, he deserved it. End of emergency. PS, he survived.
Another recurring emergency that I have seen a lot - even recently, is a person having an epileptic attack. This happened a lot for one of my family members. But what is most concerning is the emergency response that follows: Ku'i le kua or the back of the head.
For some screwed up reason, people yell out to hit the back of the head or the back of the person.
As per the above example, I sometimes feel that with ever samoan emergency, another is bound to follow due to the response. Oi Malia e!
Carrying on from the above point, I remember the day our whole village took cover inside our church building, each family in among the long bright green church pews - the wind howled but we were safe inside. Dim kerosene lights inside and hushed conversations - otherwise, the action was all outside. Just as we were chilling under the seats, the wind simply ripped the roof off - rolling it away like a mat. My mom being the Red Cross guru was yelling at people to stay down and get under the seats but there was just mad panic and screaming and people running outside of the church.
The injuries that day were from people who ran outside and got hit by debris. Thankfully, the majority stayed put or were held back at the exits until the wind eased.
The next part of this disaster led us all into the next building - smaller than the church but still large enough for everyone to lie down and wait out the storm.
There was a woman with a large gash across her head/forehead and in the absence of a doctor or much medical equipment, we all watched as the wound was cleaned and then, wait for this, sewn together with a filo and bandaged. We had a trusty First Aid case that mom kept stocked, it came in handy.
After the cyclone, there were lots more injuries, mainly cuts when people were cleaning up the mess. The villagers were treating our house like a blimmin hospital and limping over to be treated.
The best part was - my mom being away and my sisters and I actually doing the bandages and wait for this, my younger sister - who was only what, 8 at the time, offering out panadols as a cure. choohooo. She lost her self-appointed medical licence when mom found out.
Laughs aside, I'm really looking forward to doing the programme -
I'm hoping that it gets me closer to addressing these issues:
- What is the best response for a community in NZ to a disaster in their homeland?
- How is disaster funds allocated? What percentage goes to 'administration' and is there a more efficient way?
- How can we use our traditional knowledge of our environment and in responding to disasters?
- The role of social media and disaster, how can we better utilise social media? And ethics in reporting sensitive issues or images?
- How can we ensure that donations/ goods are aligned with the needs of the affected people?
- What is the true cost of a disaster?
- How can we better respond to disasters?
- Are we prepared at all, do we have a plan with our loved ones about what to do?
- Where to meet, who to call etc...oh yeah, do that now with your kids please.
- Are you a disaster? lol