Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grassroots Help in China

I read an article in this morning's news that reminded me of the posts I wrote last week on emergency preparedness, and the value we can bring to our communities when we take the time to plan ahead.

The article was about the success of grassroots organizations in China coordinating the distribution of aid in earthquake-torn communities.  These groups, comprised of Chinese citizens, have organized quickly, and are bringing great help to relief agencies trying to get food, medical supplies, etc. into the neediest areas.  The article explains that China ordinarily frowns on groups like these, preferring large, government-run organizations.  But the nimble citizen committees are receiving some leniency, probably because they are getting the job done.

The ability for citizens to gather and mobilize quickly is something that many governments are slow to recognize, often preferring, like China, to coordinate relief from the top-down (think FEMA).  But as Hurricane Katrina revealed in this country, and as these grassroots organizations are demonstrating in China, the people on the ground are often the best resource to bring relief into a neighborhood in need.

Unsurprisingly, many of the people interviewed in the article were retired or stayed home, and saw the Chinese earthquake as an opportunity for them to use their skills and time to help.  This affirms my conviction that communities need a balance of men and women in the workforce, as well as in the home.  If your choice is to stay at home, like mine is, then you should be encouraged that your lifestyle may one day bring you to the aid of your friends and neighbors.  And for everyone the story is an encouragement to be and stay prepared to help for both good and bad times in the days to come.

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