Chennai Floods – Intensive community Rehabilitation plan

(a  4 – 6 months people intensive process focused on the people in the community)

The phase of rehabilitation comes when the immediate shock and loss from flood has settled in and the next step towards moving on stronger comes up. In this stage the victims of flood have been provided the basic support to face the bigger challenge of getting back to normalcy.

While the victims of flood could be from any section of the society, the highest impact and largest numbers are naturally found among the people below the poverty level. These are the families who have had their few assets or possessions damaged or destroyed from flooding or water stagnation or both.

Rehabilitation process not only intends to bring back the people to their old routine but also aims to build a sustainable community support system that provides a safe environment to prosper.

This includes (not restricted to)

  • Providing academic and non-academic support for children
  • Developing new skills for youth
  • Building employment opportunities for men and women
  • Better health care for the sick and old people
  • Better hygiene and sanitation for the community – proper drainage, garbage disposal, etc
  • Creating new economic opportunities – Job creation within the community
  • Building economic independence for Self employed and entrepreneurs

The Objective of the Rehabilitation is not to provide the support and hold up the community but to help them help them hold themselves up independently. “Not feed the hungry man, teach them to fish and feed oneself”

One of the biggest challenge we can expect to face is the resistance from the affected community to move from the stage of relief to rehabilitation. The stage of Rehabilitation is when the onus of rebuilding one’s own family comes back to the earning members of the family. At this stage, people can be comfortable in the negativity of the loss around them and lamenting the loss expecting others to provide support (as would have happened in stage 1 – Rescue and stage 2 – relief).

It is essential to help them take a positive outlook and instill hope about a brighter future as a result of determined and collective work as a community.

The positivity should not stem from material or external factors but from within their own self, their family and community. Only with such an outlook of confidence they can begin to respect and appreciate the support provided to build themselves. In addition to positivity and confidence, they should also begin to act as a community that stands as one. This entails building trust and respect for one another. This is a slow and testing process that will succeed only after many pit falls.

A few steps in building the community as a positive and confident single unit:

Understanding the Community:

Collect database of the families, individuals who form the community and identify the needs of the different groups. Data should cover all demographic and include details of each member and their work/studies, skills, health status etc. This database is the very first step after identifying the community for Rehabilitation.

Happy Circle:

First 3 weeks of rehab – Happy Circle time called for by the Community development volunteer (CDV)along with members of the community (weekdays – evening 7 – 8pm). Atleast one member of each family joins the circle time to share observations and stories of things that made them happy or smile. Their own activities, other’s deeds or hear say stories that made them happy – Objective: let them speak about positive things.

Fourth week onwards – different happy circles by age – old, middle age, youth and children. They are headed by one of the community members. Supervised by the community development volunteer.

Self assessment:

Once the families are comfortable to welcome the CDV into their homes and share their stories and aspirations, the CDV helps the families do a self assessment of their aspirations and the steps to attain them. Breaking down the plans to smaller milestones and helping each member of the family gain an understanding of their share in the family’s aspirations. At this stage, the economic capacity of the family may or may not support the aspirations. If the family needs to build the potential, sources of support can be identified with the help of CDV eg: New skill building or new employment opp for members of the family, etc

Once the family identifies itself against its aspiration and the smaller milestones, the family declares their plan of action to the community (as does every other family). This public proclamation ensures that each member is accountable for their word to each other and also helps the community understand better the battles in each home. (Building mutual respect and support)

A few ways to build the community to greater potential:

  • Create a child care centre
  • Create spaces for tutoring and engagement of kids in sports and co curricular activities
  • Arrange for a few youngsters to be Health in charges – to check on old or disabled or sick people.
  • Help build a simple waste segregation system and publicly recognize families that follow the system.
  • Help in building awareness drives for safety, hygiene and sanitation through the youth of the community.
  • For those who would venture to start new business, help them get a bank loan with initial support while the onus for payment lies with the individual.
  • Arrange for workshops or courses to build skills within the community
  • Plan for a monthly community owned clean up or revamp program where the people involve themselves in the community maintenance.
  • Arrange for workshops on financial planning, banking process workshop to give them basic awareness of the processes.
  • If the families have lost documents, help one of the community members represent them with the Govt for process of retrieval.

Plan by Ms.Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Senior Manager, Ignite programme, Bhumi

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