What Refuels Me After Back-To-Back Disasters

A little generosity goes a long way in a crisis. GlobalGiving’s Senior Humanitarian Response Specialist shows you how Facebook donors supported firefighters, bought mattresses for flood survivors, and more in a year marked by concurrent disasters.


 

I am always humbled and awed by the indomitable strength of people affected by humanitarian emergencies.

2019 was no different.

As GlobalGiving’s Senior Humanitarian Response Specialist, I observed community bonds growing stronger in counties where Hurricane Michael reconfigured the landscape, where people still awaited the full might of government support months after the storm. In California, I visited communities holding on to hope after devastating wildfires, even when financial support is unevenly distributed and exacerbates pre-existing socioeconomic conditions. In the Philippines, the third highest ranked country for disaster vulnerability, I worked with grassroots leaders to facilitate critical discussions, peer learning, and collaboration around disaster risk reduction and management.

While 2019 was a challenging year for so many facing humanitarian emergencies, the GlobalGiving crisis response partnership with Facebook continued to meet the needs of vulnerable people impacted by disasters. Thanks to the Facebook donor community, nonprofit leaders in 46 countries were able to access resources to respond to crises widely overlooked by traditional aid agencies and mainstream news media. We partnered with dedicated teams providing aid and relief following an earthquake in Albania, a tornado in South Dakota, Typhoon Hagibis in Japan, and the wildfires in Australia.

Facebook features a crisis donate button that enables its users to support disaster relief efforts around the world. GlobalGiving directs these funds to verified, primarily local nonprofit organizations in impacted areas that are responding to emergencies and supporting affected communities.

Disaster response led by people living and working in impacted communities is at the core of what we do. GlobalGiving partners with nonprofit leaders who are on the front line of disaster response. They have a pulse on evolving needs and familiarity with local contexts, cultures, and norms.

Across the world, I’ve witnessed nonprofits employ meager resources to bring about tangible impact to families in need. With a modest donation of under $500 from the Facebook crisis donate button, LGBT Voice, a locally-based LGBT advocacy organization, provided food, medication and baby supplies for families affected by flooding in Tanzania. With a similar sized grant, Self Reliance Promoters’ NGO delivered food and clothing to survivors, and supported the identification of orphaned and vulnerable children affected by a landslide in Cameroon. AdvocAid, a local organization that provides free legal representation, education empowerment, and a moving forward program for women with felony convictions in Sierra Leone, utilized a $590 grant to purchase mattresses for women impacted by floods in Freetown.

I’m inspired by the West Street Recovery team who supported low-income communities on the eastern coast of Texas following Tropical Storm Imelda. Working mostly through volunteers, they mucked and repaired homes, building local capacity in the process. In addition, they convened the community to discuss the importance of drainage initiatives and to coordinate an advocacy campaign to the local government to more equitably distribute available resources.

Because of the Facebook Crisis Response Program, nonprofits were able to focus on the needs of first responders. The Alaska Fire Fighter Peer Support team was able to meet the mental health needs of firefighters involved in the McKinley Fire through their peer support groups. Mauricio Oliveros Henríquez from La Quinta Compañía de Bomberos de Talcahuano told us, “Since the earthquake nine years ago, and following this tornado in BioBio Chile, we are in need of protective gear for our firefighters.” Facebook donations helped Mauricio’s team buy the gear they needed.

In an era of concurrent disasters, our attentions are fractured. Building awareness for emergencies worldwide has never been more difficult. Right now, strengthening local capacity and resilience to disasters is crucial.

Every community deserves to be better prepared for the next disaster—regardless of how much news coverage they receive.

The GlobalGiving team remains steadfast in our commitment to do our part to support and strengthen resilient communities. The road ahead is not without its challenges, but I am continually refueled by the dedication of our partners on the ground.

Learn more about how GlobalGiving powers community-led disaster relief, recovery, and resilience.

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Featured Photo: House 50 Hurricane Survivors in the Florida Panhandle by Doorways of Northwest Florida

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