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Building a resilient city – Churches and Disasters

The Church responding to disaster

Respond is a coalition of Churches responding to disaster. In 2008, Xenophobia events were rife in the Western Cape. This led Churches to deliberate discussions around greater co-operation during times of disaster. Because of these discussions, The Warehouse RESPOND was birthed consisting of several Church and Christian Faith-based NPO’s.

Lester Sedras, the Respond coalition catalyst explained, “We are a supportive coalition to the Disaster Response Management Centre who holds the primary responsibility in terms of Disasters. It’s a collaborative approach which leverages the strengths of each organization, be it resources of time, skills, human and material.”

RESPOND co-ordinates allocations and reports on disaster events. It provides logistic and intellectual support, directs material donations, serves as a hub for both telephonic communications from general public as well as e-mail communications.

A recent workshop was held at the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre in Goodwood on the 30th March where the Respond team hosted new Churches wanting to learn how to effectively respond to need in times of disaster. A participant, Deacon Merryl Preston of the Methodist Church commented after the workshop, “This was an informative session. We’ve been introduced to new thoughts and built relationships that we intend to use as we share thoughts around helping in Disasters.”

The Respond coalition is a conglomerate of 13 Church organisations each consisting of more than one church.  The regional reach covers the City of Cape town which includes Atlantis area. The City of Cape Town is divided into 4 Disaster Zones (Central, East, South /West and North) which are all co-ordinated by a Disaster Area Manager. The workshop of this past weekend was aimed at establishing the RESPOND Zonal teams along the same lines as that of the City to ensure that we are resilient enough within these zones to assist when smaller incidents happen.

The Respond coalition is growing as they’ve extended as far as Paarl this year and looking forward the plan is to be active in Jeffreys Bay as well as the Langeberg region soon.  The Warehouse has developed and produced the resource ‘A guide for those wishing to help during time of disaster’. For those interested and wanting to participate in Respond, please contact respond@warehouse.org.za and for those interested in donating please follow this link to donate, please use ‘respond’ as your reference.

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