Thoughts for My People

A strong step forward together

Before I get into today’s scribble, I would like to send my message of support to the people affected by a series of big earthquakes, tsunami, and aftershocks in New Zealand’s South Island. As a fellow earthquake-ridden nation, we cannot help but be concerned for your safety and health, but we are also confident that you will show resilience just as you have done in the past. We are with you in our hearts all the way on your road to recovery!

 

Now, what and how much has happened in seven months?

 

Seven months is the time that have passed since the first big earthquake hit the Southwest region of my homeland.

 

Since a month ago, construction of all planned temporary houses have now been completed, accelerating the shift in efforts from rescue to recovery. However, the road ahead is still long and steep – a great majority of the damaged houses are still laying as rubbles on the ground due to severe shortages in personnel and machineries to take them away and decompose and/or re-process them. Regrettably, some parts of the affected regions remain mostly unchanged, still unable to take the first step forward after seven months.

 

In places where steps forward have been taken, though, we are seeing all-inclusive projects to move ahead, leaving no one behind. For example, there is a municipality office building that was so hard-hit, it was deemed inoperable and needed to be demolished. Upon this news, a local bio-diesel fuel (BDF; renewable fuel that can be made from vegetable oils and animal fats) producing company suggested to the municipal its use in demolition machines.

 

It just so happened that the municipality had already been collecting household cooking oil to recycle as fuel, and the demolition contractor had already been using machines using BDF. The suggestion was accepted immediately, and BDF made from household cooking oil collected within the municipality is now fueling the demolition machines! The municipality head says “the road ahead to recovery is very long, but we hope to take a strong step forward by gathering strengths of all citizens of the municipality in completing the demolition. [my translation]”

 

Maybe when the citizens of this municipality were hit by the earthquakes, they felt extremely helpless.

Maybe they were devastated when they saw that even the municipality office, the centre designated to help them in difficult situations, were so hard-hit and needed to be demolished.

But maybe they were given hope when they found out they could help themselves, just by recycling used cooking oil coming out of their ordinary everyday lives.

And maybe in a collected effort, they will accomplish taking a strong step forward together… stronger than if they were to take it individually.

 

I am usually critical of the way my people rely on the strength in numbers to do (or more often, not do) something. But in this case, I am all for it! I support the wonderful effort of this municipality to leave no one behind – not to mention its brilliance in being environmentally friendly! – and I wish them all the best in the strong step forward they are taking together.

 

I must also acknowledge the strength in numbers of love and support we continue to receive from around the world. I know so much happens every day everywhere that we could easily slip out of awareness… but no matter how little we are remembered in each, they amass to a huge force to push us ahead. Thank you so much – it is because of you that we, and I believe the people of Ecuador and now the people of New Zealand, are able to take another strong step forward!

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