Disaster recovery is a long and complex process. It’s much more than getting enough food and water to needy families. It’s about bringing hope and vision to devastated parents and children.
I’ve gone tent-to-tent with Food for the Hungry (FH) staff, to visit disaster-battered families in places like Ethiopia, the Philippines, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eyes cast down to the floor will lift, and a new spark lights up when strangers walk in. “I see you, I see your suffering, it matters to me,” is what you say when you visit. You offer someone a hopeful, emotional ladder to climb out of a pit.
“Recovery” gives the idea of restoring a community to what it was before a disaster. Often, your donations to the disaster relief fund help communities strengthen their ability to react rapidly. Or, they help prevent disaster in the first place, as community leaders learn how to identify where they are vulnerable, and how to protect themselves.
Most importantly, however, disaster recovery gives people hope. I will never forget visiting a community in the Philippines that was literally flattened by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. As soon as I climbed out of the car, a man with a broad smile hurried to our group. He literally hugged me. … “You came back!” the man kept saying.
He was a community leader in the city government and had been greeting a parade of humanitarian organizations amidst the piles of debris. FH’s team had been there the day before; I was not among them, but he recognized the logo on my hat. “You’re the first group I’ve seen who came back,” he continued, smiling broadly. In the coming back, in the staying, in helping parents, churches, and leaders envision a better future, hope remains, even when the walls have crumbled.
[Excerpts of an article by Beth Allen, a volunteer with Food for the Hungry]