Adel Terblanche, ForAfrika’s Western Cape community development officer
The secret to emergency response is to be prepared, says Adel Terblanche, ForAfrika’s Western Cape community development officer.
In the past few weeks, Adel has been very busy helping thousands of people affected by the province’s recent devastating floods.
“You need to make sure that you are always able to respond, and not just with food and material goods. When you respond to emergencies, you’re dealing with people who are going through a lot of emotions. You have to support them emotionally, too,” she says.
Being able to offer emotional support to communities that have suffered a devastating event, be it a fire or a flood, means having an ongoing relationship with the community, says Adel.
She ensures that there are always emergency response hampers, ready-packed, in our Western Cape warehouses. One of our hampers will feed a family of four for two to three weeks.
After several years of working in the Western Cape, she knows that May to September is “flood season”, after which heavy winds can be expected between August and October or November. Then comes the summer “fire season”.
Before parcels are handed out, Adel and her team visit disaster sites to assess what is needed, and to coordinate a response with the other first responders, from Western Cape government institutions to other humanitarian assistance organisations.
Each emergency response parcel is filled with foodstuffs that can last three to four months. If the goods are not used, the parcels are donated to our Western Cape early childhood development centres ahead of the food’s expiry.
“It is so, so vital to be prepared. If we want to be an Africa that thrives, then we have to be ready to make that happen … I always make sure there are at least 100 parcels in the warehouses,” says Adel.
Adel is just one of the many strong African women we are celebrating this month, which ends with Pan African Women’s Day on 31 July.