Stories of Change

The Disaster Risk Reduction education session.

“Our community will be more resilient now!”

For many small villages in Myanmar, emergency services may be far away in the event of a disaster. That’s why it’s so important to make sure community members themselves have valuable skills and information to prepare for and respond in these situations.

We call this type of work Disaster Risk Reduction, and our program is reliant on community volunteers to help their neighbors and village leaders. Daw Than Than Aye and U San Maung are the pair of DRR volunteers from Ko Ein Tein West village. They attended one of our Training of Trainers workshops recently, where they learned about making maps of their village showing hazards and resources; creating historical timelines of past disasters and how they correlated to seasonal weather and activities; creating calendars for community action; and evacuation planning.

The volunteer duo worked hard to organize a series of meetings and training events for 20 of their neighbors, who were eager to learn how to better cope with natural disasters, especially the flooding that they face every year. For the first few meetings, our team coached and supported Daw Than Than Aye and U San Maung. Once they were more confident and experienced, they began to truly lead the gatherings. One thing that they found particularly helpful was to invite everyone to share their own personal experiences with disasters, including their own.

At the end of one meeting, the volunteers told our team that, “We really like sharing our new knowledge and information that we learned during the CWS-organized Training of Trainers.” A lot of their satisfaction seemed to come from the fact that they could help other community members understand how to prepare themselves for disaster – and especially to help save lives and assets when disasters strike. “Our community will be more resilient now!”, they said. And, with satisfaction for their own roles in helping Ko EinTein West village, and with plans for further follow-up and support, CWS staff are hopeful they are right.