Almost 50 people spent last Sunday afternoon learning about the Adopt-a-Village tsunami relief initiative spearheaded on the Sunshine Coast by Angela Pressburger, Michael Siddall and Natasha Rosewood.
The concept was originally conceived by Squamish Coun. Jeff Dawson and has resulted in the creation of a non-profit society registered with the Province of B.C. Chapters have formed around B.C. and interest has come from across Canada and as far away as Germany.
This humanitarian response to the tsunami that hit southeast Asia last month addresses the long-term needs of communities throughout the area. The commitment to help restore the physical, psychological and spiritual devastation offers a new approach to assisting those in need by allowing them to be part of the rehabilitation process. Conventional charitable organizations certainly have their place, and this program is not meant to undermine them in any way but rather is a synergistic movement working with and augmenting existing organizations.
Not dissimilar to existing "twinning" partnerships between global cities, Adopt-a-Village differs in its point of view.
Pressburger believes the tsunami has brought to focus something that has been waiting to happen, not just giving money and then ending your involvement.
"This is about getting personal in any way we can," Rosewood added.
Once a village has been selected, the chapter will build a relationship with the people of the community and provide them with funds and assistance based on the needs they identify. This cooperative approach to lending aid will enable people to gain a sense of ownership of the rebuilding process. Examples of ways to help include building houses, schools, orphanages, water systems and boats and installing solar-powered battery operated LED lighting for villages without power. The potential list of projects is endless, but the key to the program is that the chapter's involvement will not end. Adopt-a-Village will remain with the selected village as long as required. Concern for the preservation of cultural uniqueness has been addressed. Organizers of the Adopt-a-Village program are clear they won't attempt to rebuild villages in the North American image. Conversely, the cultural linkage will be reciprocal, giving us an opportunity to learn from the customs of another culture and thus enrich our own understanding of what it means to be human. The meeting ended with the formation of an organizing committee that will define the framework and feasibility of creating a chapter here on the Sunshine Coast and research potential villages based on the selection criteria they identify. A follow-up meeting will be held on Sunday, Feb. 27, at 2:30 p.m., location to be determined.