There are moments in history that prompt changes. Within our Pagan community I believe we are experiencing such a moment. The disaster in the Philippines has brought to the surface the desire of Pagans to engage more effectively in humanitarian response. Our community faces the same obstacles as everyone else in terms of discernment of the best course of action. As a minority faith group we would like to collectively focus our giving on organizations that reflect our values and provide real relief to victims in an accountable and transparent way.
Today in the Philippines members of the local Pagan Federation are attempting to do something they have not engaged in before, namely disaster response. While I personally support their efforts, as a professional disaster responder I know the course of action they are taking is fraught with pitfalls and a steep learning curve.
If the Pagan community were to establish a standing cooperative response network our co religionists could have access to disaster professionals with extensive knowledge in the areas of planning, fundraising, logistics, inter NGO relations and health care response. Their efforts and the value of each dollar contributed would be multiplied. Such an effort would have to be cooperative among all the major Pagan organizations. Simply stated, none of our organizations alone have the depth of fundraising ability, trained responders or organizational expertise. Such an approach will require the setting aside of organizational ego and a focus on what serves humanity as a whole.
Being Pagan the organizational model for such a response network would look radically different from those developed by other faith groups. The modal would include:
A focus on service to all, not just co-religionists
Building webs of mutual support with the affected population, as rapidly as possible, turning over direct operations to local responders, while maintaining responsibility for accountability and transparency as related to funds and supplies.
Understanding that the reach of our mission will be limited to providing specific services to a specific area due to our knowledge that small mobile responses are the most effective means of providing effective relief in the early days of disaster.
The understanding that a direct response is not always the best form of support. The organization would provide well-researched recommendations for donations when direct response is not the best use of resources.
Some of the basics of such a model would include trigger points for cooperative activation, a board made up of representatives of major organizations, minimum training standards for all responders, an initial small fundraiser, commitments from organizations to give a pre determined amount when an activation is declared by the board and organizational commitments to engage fundraising efforts in member communities during any response.
This concept is in the contemplative stag, I urge you to provide ideas on how to make such an organization successful. At this time the best approach is to support these conversations in any way you can. Discuss this concept in your Pagan group. Post your positive ideas on how to make the concept work, make lists of interested individuals. Share this post or write your own on the subject. Urge major Pagan organizations to come to the table to discuss this issue with out the need to be the “leading” organization. We all have something to contribute, Together We Can!