Friday, 16 November 2012

Resilience: clap trap and jargon

The largest all girl's school at Point Pedro in Jaffna

I am rarely short of words but after spending a full day in Point Pedro Jaffna with Red Cross volunteers and visiting schools and talking to teachers, pupils and the Chairman of the Jaffna Branch of SLRCS, I am baffled, and feel like throwing words such as resilience, risk reduction, beneficiary communication, self sustaining communities and social inclusion, out the window. Like a spider spinning, we entangle ourselves in an academic web where jargon flows as freely as beer at happy hour, but how many understand how to apply this claptrap? 

Having spent at least 3 weeks at community level in the last two months I find something academic, and false, about it all. Today I tweeted with dear Dr. Devindra, ex PMI and IFRC, a lady I admire immeasurably.

I told her I had spent a day with people who have been battered & brutalized  by 30 years of war, bruised by tsunami and they are still smiling. She replied saying she knew what I was talking about. Vulnerable people don't need our patronizing jargon and auditor-type checking. They need to be treated as human beings and make their own decisions.

At the largest girls school in Point Pedro, with about 1500 pupils, where we have installed a new toilet block with hand basins, Rebecca Kabura from Kenya runs a Red Cross hygiene promotion programme in this school and 40 others, I sat next to the Principal of the school during a ceremony. Seeing so many bicycles in the bike shed, I asked her “ How many pupils bike to school?” Over 50%, but they are the lucky ones who can afford a bike.” On pressing her a little more, she said “ I cycle to school too in my sari.” What a role model.

Later she produced a photo album of the incredible damage done to the school by the tsunami, and spoke of the number  of pupils killed, and then  told me a remarkable story of restriction and humiliation as an outspoken Principal, during her 18 year tenure. Her humility was overpowering, and I thought in would be an insult to talk about resilience with her or her students. Thank God Red Cross Red Crescent has volunteers from most communities in Sri Lanka who represent and shape their destiny.

We inaugurated large toilet blocks and wash basins in 7 schools at Point Pedro, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. Here the Chairman of the Jaffna Branch of Sri Lanka Red Cross right, with Principal and school committee chairwoman at  Thambasiddy school outside the new toilet block. The supply of toilets and wash basins in approx 40 schools is part of a wider Red Cross hygiene promotion pr
ogramme which runs slightly ahead of a new water supply system in Point Pedro, bringing clean water to 70,000 people. The water supply is a joint IFRC ADB co-financing project implemented by the Sri Lanka Water Board. Partnership such as this one with communities is the way to go as you get buy in and support from all aspects of the community.


Donald said...

Hi Bob

The more I see of life the more I think that the wordy jargon all too easily comes from the mind.

AFrom the heart seems better, more effective, and authentic as well.



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