Guatemala Trip to Support Disaster Resilience Leadership – Re-Energized

Fanny Sofía Cruz Meza, with the Universidad Politécnica de Honduras, is implementing her Action Plan by working with the local community of Montevideo in the Municipality of La Lima, Cortes, Honduras to strengthen capacities in risk management and training in first aid.

by Eric Corzine, PhD

I recently returned from a visit with our Guatemalan university partner, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala (USAC), for the Disaster Resilience Leadership program which is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As part of this program, the USAC held a series of two leadership workshops for local humanitarian assistance practitioners (Fellows). During the week of March 19-23, the USAC held the second workshop in the series. Despite a hectic travel schedule, a busy agenda, and a field visit, I feel re-energized.

The workshop participants (Fellows) are from two of the most vulnerable countries in the world according to the 2017 World Risk Report: Guatemala, and Honduras. This second workshop in the series focuses on Action Plans developed by the Fellows. These Action Plans are to address a problem or a need related to disaster that the Fellows see in the organizations in which they work, or in the communities in which they live. During the first workshop the Fellows began to develop their Action Plans; the Fellows then implemented their plans and shared their progress in the second workshop.

One thing that was so energizing about the second workshop was that within the Action Plans you could see the desire to improve the lives of those around them and reduce the risk in communities where they live. The Fellows had four months to implement their plans and many had to work nights and weekends in order to be ready to report back to their peers in the second workshop. These plans covered a wide array of efforts; including training school children in disaster procedures, implementing new curriculum in various schools and universities including an architecture program, holding simulations, and painting bridges to indicate dangerous water levels to the community. The Fellows themselves were impressed by the efforts and ideas of the other Fellows.

I’d like to thank all of our Fellows for affirming our belief in them and that working together we can confront the risks and vulnerabilities in our communities and save lives.