At MP-KNN, we’re always on the lookout for youth initiatives with social impact. One such youth initiative is the DRR Texter Clan from Eastern Samar!
Founded by Mark Patrick Balaca in 2010, the DRR Texter Clan uses existing technology to assist with disaster risk reduction (DRR). Some areas in Eastern and Northern Samar have limited access to news and information, so they are not always notified when storm signals and advisories are released. Mark and his fellow volunteers use their mobile phones to send announcements of incoming typhoons to friends in these far-flung areas. When they send texts to their friends, the recipients take it upon themselves to notify as many people as they can within the area. In addition to informing others about incoming storms, they also share safety tips about what to do during inclement weather.
Initially, the DRR Texter Clan had a network of 95 youth, but by October 2014 they had a total of 250 youth volunteers from various municipalities around Eastern Samar and Northern Samar. Together with fellow volunteer Marinelle Obaldo, Mark shared their experience in DRR at the Digital Strategies for Development Summit 2015 in the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City.
MP-KNN took the opportunity to talk to Mark and Marinelle about DRR Texter Clan:
Mark: Last 2010, may mga activities po na ino-organize ang Plan International. Tapos po, may project po sila sa disaster risk reduction. Naisip naming mga bata, malalayo kami, from different municipalities: may taga-northern part ng aming province, [may taga-]southern part. Malayo talaga kami, three hours bago makapunta dun. So napag-isip-isip naming, paano kaya kami makakagawa ng conversation kahit malayo kami? So gumawa kami ng group, at tinawag naming DRR Texter Clan. Mula noon, nagkaroon na kami ng conversation, tapos nagmi-meet na kami. Nag-meeting kami kung ano ba ang goal at role ng aming organization. Napag-isipan namin na gawing advocacy namin na makatulong sa mga bata at mga tao in case na may hazard or disaster na darating.
Marinelle: Initiative ng kabataan namin ‘yon. Alam naman po namin ang problema, [kaya] binigyan po namin ng solusyon. At least nakakatulong kami sa konting paraan namin. Alam namin na nakakatulong kami, na may nagagawa kami para sa kabutihan ng lahat.
Mark: Cellphone lang po talaga [ang gamit namin], tapos kumukuha kami sa Internet ng mga weather forecast. May mga modules naman po kami about DRR, kaya ‘yon ang idini-disseminate namin sa mga bata.
What advice can the DRR Texter Clan give to other youth who want to help their community?
Marinelle: Dapat mas pagtuunan nila ng pansin ‘yong nangyayari ngayon sa panahon natin, especially kasi kaming mga kabataan rin ‘yong magsu-suffer. Nag-e-enjoy lang tayo sa modern technology pero we are not thinking about our future. Marami ang nagagawa ng technology so sana hindi lang yun yung uunahin or iisipin ng kabataan ngayon. Isipin din natin ‘yong mangyayari sa susunod na panahon, using technology and using technology wisely.
The DRR Texter Clan is a great example of how young people can help others using the resources available to them. Good job, Mark and Marinelle!
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