Disaster

Preparing To Defeat The Giants

Cervantes’ delusional hero, Don Quixote, tilts at windmills believing they are giants. The Spanish writer may have penned his novel as a satire but was quite correct when he wrote: “Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory”. ‘Preparedness’ has become a buzzword among NPO’s and other organisations in the wake of emergencies in South Africa over the past few years, and, unlike Cervantes chivalrous fool’s imaginings, the looming giants are real and battle must be prepared for.

The second of three gatherings of faith-based NPOs was held at Anthem Church, Durban North, in the first week of November. The first took place in Pretoria in September and the third will be held in Jeffries Bay on 4 February 2023. The broad theme of each two-day conference is The Church Responding to Disasters.  The aim of all three is to build relationships and networks in advance of future contingencies, the mapping of the strengths each organisation brings to the collective, understanding what has been learnt over the past three years, exploring the engagement of local congregations in the mitigation and response phases in times of emergency, and how to more effectively work together in the future.

One of the Durban conference facilitators, Ian Booth of Diakonia Council of Churches, said: “We have had very real on-the-ground experience of collaboration in this province. One example is KZN Response, a loose association of five NPOs (The Domino Foundation: CityHope Disaster: Zoë-Life; the South African Red Cross in KZN and the KZN Christian Council) which have pooled their unique areas of competence in times of disaster for a number of years. We have seen how much more effective we can be when we work to each organisation’s strengths. This conference, which was focused on our Metro, looked at how to build on existing collaborations, and at strengthening, broadening and deepening them.”

For about four years, church networks around South Africa have been looking at ways to collaborate better. Taking the lead from the Respond Network in the Western Cape, which has been in existence for 12 years, city-level disaster response coalitions of Church and Christian NPOs are emerging. These bottom-up coalitions give exciting possibilities for national alignment and partnerships to emerge.

Jacques Harley, Logistics Coordinator at one of the Western Cape organisations, Heal Our Land, emphasised that the vision is, not only to be better prepared for inevitable disaster situations through forward planning and strategic cooperation, but also to work towards building ‘resilient communities’ where vulnerable people so often affected by catastrophes move significantly from being ‘victims’ to being able to respond proactively, together with outside bodies, to their own needs.

Cathy Whittle, leader of The Domino Foundation’s Disaster Relief Unit, summed up her take-away from the two days: “The question of ‘what is in your hand?’ underlay much of the discussion. The circle got wider as more people realised that they are not alone when disaster strikes, that local communities have a lot they can do to assist neighbours well before outside agencies arrive.” She spoke of the extensive Whatsapp group which has been established for quick communication, and about all participant groups having been mapped so that, instead of a lot of travelling being necessary to assess the extent of a disaster, the ball is now in local communities’ court. “Equipping and upskilling churches and local communities will be key as we ask who has vital local data? Historically, information and directives have cascaded downwards. We are now working on a bottom-up approach with local government, councilors and leaders in the communities to ensure those communities are more resilient and can take crucial action as soon as disaster hits”.

Pastor and conference participant, Sibusiso Mtakati, pastor with the Northern eThekwini Cluster of Churches, said of the two days: “We were so impressed by the selflessness of those sharing about the work that has already been done in disaster situations. We understood that they were people just like us who have deep concern for others. Together we can beat the giants!”

For details on the Jeffries Bay conference, Jacques can be contacted on jacques@unashamedlyethical.com or 021 836 4270 and Sarah on s.montgomery365@outlook.com or 0671831631 for more information on disaster preparedness in KZN.

#disasterrelief #strongertogether

Cathy Whittle, Lead of The Domino Foundation’s Disaster Relief Unit

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COVID-19 In response to our Staff

STAFF/TEAM:

As a large proportion of our staff live within the communities that we serve, a number of our staff are at risk of infections as well. While we as a civil society role player exist to serve our beneficiaries, we as an organisation also exist for the benefit of our teams. The team’s health and wellbeing is of the utmost importance and as such we have implemented a Work from Home (WFH) Policy up until 14 April 2020, when schools and programmes are scheduled to resume.

Field-based teams – As per our usual protocol during school holidays, field-based teams will break for the extended holidays (18 March – 14 April 2020)

Office-based teams – The team will have remote access, utilise Zoom technologies for Virtual Meetings and schedule regular Telecommunications Meetings as needed while working from home.

Our team will continue to support our Stakeholders and Partners effectively and efficiently during this period. We have instructed all staff to practise essential social distancing techniques, increased hygienic practices, strict immune support programmes as well as self-isolation should any symptoms materialise over the next few weeks.

MEMBERS:

Finally to our Members, we are responsible to you for ensuring that The Domino Foundation continues to serve our Stakeholders, support our communities, influence our city and achieve our objectives for 2020. We have conducted a Risk Assessment, combined with an Environmental Analysis of our macroeconomic impacts and are developing a strategy to ensure our continued success throughout this period. Our focus during this period, is to continue with our core programme objectives and ensure the well-being of our Beneficiaries, Partners and Staff/Team.

Kind regards,

Shaun Tait

Chief Executive Officer

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COVID-19 Response to our Partners

PARTNERS: Donors | Volunteers

Financial and Non-Financial Donors:

We will increase our communication with donors and continue to serve their needs for documentation, paperwork, reports and feedback, remotely. To reduce unnecessary exposure we have decided to implement the following:

  1. Staff impact days – Both off-site and on-site Staff Impact Days/Team Builds have been postponed for the foreseeable future to minimise risk of infections.
  2. Connect Tours – Scheduled Connect Tours for Management to view programmes in action have been postponed got the foreseeable future
  3. We-Share gatherings (Corporate presentations) – scheduled We-Share gatherings with Donor Staff Teams have been postponed for the foreseeable future.

Although our programmes have been adapted to ensure that we meet our beneficiary’s needs during this period of uncertainty, our Donor Relations Team is confident that we will still support our partners CSI, B‑BBEE, National Development Plan (NDP), Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Funding Objectives for 2020.

Volunteers:

  1. Community Service Work Weeks: We have taken the decision to postpone our 1st Community Work Week for 2020, with plans to add an additional week during the second half of the year.
  2. Regular Volunteers: As programmes go on a break during the extended school holidays, volunteer’s shifts will be postponed for the break. We will review this policy once we have a clearer picture of how long this pandemic will last.
  3. International Volunteer Programmme: Based on the travel ban and quarantine period, we have taken the decision to cancel/postpone our International Volunteer Programmes that were scheduled before 30 June. We will liaise with each group accordingly.

In essence, we are placing a moratorium on all Programme-Orientated Volunteer Opportunities for the foreseeable future.

Kind regards,

Shaun Tait

Chief Executive Officer

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COVID-19 Response from our CEO

18 March 2020

THE DOMINO FOUNDATION – COVID-19 RESPONSE

“We are all members of the great human family, created in the image of God” Genesis 1:17

The Coronavirus has arrived on South African shores and one aspect that it has certainly highlighted, is our equality as humanity. This virus has no boundaries, does not discriminate and does not respect national borders. It is OUR virus, and together, in unity, we can stop the spread through a calm, well-informed and planned response.

In preparation for the expected arrival of the COVID-19 virus, The Domino Foundation conducted Awareness and Education Training with our staff and implemented enhanced hygiene and cleanliness procedures throughout our organisation on Friday 6 March 2020. Through distribution packs of hand wash, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes, our team began implementing heightened cleaning and hygiene protocols within our office work space, vehicles, kitchens and the Baby Home. Following the address from our President on Sunday night 15 March 2020, and the declaration of a National Disaster, we met as a team to discuss the way forward to ensure the safety of our stakeholders.

While we do exist to serve our 12,351 beneficiaries in times such as these, leadership requires that we have to make decisions regarding the health of our Beneficiaries, Partners and Staff to ensure that our actions reflect the best interests of our stakeholders. Due to the nature of our work taking place into local communities, a large portion of our beneficiaries represent the ‘high-risk population’ having underlying health challenges (HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis etc.) as well as serving an aged beneficiary group.

As such, as of Tuesday 17 March 2020, the following additional measures have been put in place to ensure the safety and good health of all our stakeholders. We have separated our response into 3 categories, pertaining to the impact on each stakeholder respectively, namely;

  1. Beneficiaries,
  2. Partners: Donors & Volunteers
  3. Staff and Members

Each subsequent attachment shows steps taken for each stakeholder, summary is provided below:

BENEFICIARIES: Click here to read how this impacts our beneficiaries

  • Baby Home – closed to volunteers and external visitors until further notice.
  • Nutrition, ECD, Literacy, Life Skills & Skills Development – following standard protocol of closing during the school holidays (18 March – 14 April 2020). To resume in April 2020 pending Government updates.
  • Red Light Anti-Human Trafficking Programme – Off-site protocols will be implemented and curriculum and counselling to continue digitally via cellphone communication.
  • Disaster Response – Prevention Education and Training Campaigns to run as usual. More details of how you can support to follow on Friday 20.03.20.

PARTNERS: Click here to read how this impacts our Partners

  • Donors – We will continue all support and donor relation services, but will operate remotely. Postponing all Staff Impact Days, Connect Tours and In-person Presentations.
  • Volunteers – moratorium on all Volunteer Opportunities (CommServe Work Week #1, Regular Volunteers, Schools Programme and International Volunteers).

STAFF AND MEMBERS: Click here to read how this impacts our Staff & Members

  • Field-based teams – As per our usual protocol during school holidays, field-based teams will break for the extended holidays (18 March – 14 April 2020). To resume in April pending Government updates.
  • Office-based teams – Continue to work remotely, utilise Zoom technologies for Virtual Meetings and schedule regular Telecommunications Meetings as needed.

We stand with Government and implore every citizen to adjust their current lifestyle to apply strict:

  • Social Distancing Techniques
  • Immune Building Practices and to ensure increased
  • Hygiene Sanitation and
  • Self-isolation, should the need arise.

The above measures will be in place until 14 April 2020, and will be reassessed in consultation with Government communication updates.

South Africa, we continue to pray for you and stand in solidarity during this time of need. Our prayers are with those who are high risk individuals as well as the small and medium businesses, and those organisations that operate in the Tourism, Hospitality and Service Industries who will largely be affected by the downturn of socialisation and will face longer lasting economic impact.

While these are times of global panic and uncertainty, they are also times of incredible opportunity, innovation and potential. We will continue to serve our stakeholders to the best of our ability and ask for continued support, grace and flexibility to adopt methods of best practice during this time.

It is another great day to change a life and to partner together for the future of our country!

Kind regards,

 

 

 

Shaun Tait

Chief Executive Officer

 

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