A young project manager leads a group discussion with community members on disaster risks in Nepal. Photo: Mission East Nepal A young project manager leads a group discussion with community members on disaster risks in Nepal. Photo: Mission East Nepal

Working as the Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergencies Advisor at Y Care International for four years taught me so much. A few months ago that I left to work for another international charity based in Nepal, responding to the recovery needs of those affected by the earthquakes last year. However, I constantly refer back to the learning and skills that I gained during my time with Y Care International.

Nepal was struck by two devastating earthquakes in 2015. I was at Y Care International at the time and we responded rapidly thanks to our generous supporters and excellent emergency partners. More than 18 months on and the emergency relief phase has ended and transitioned into recovery, reconstruction, and preparing for the next disaster. In my new organization, Mission East, I’m managing a community-based disaster preparedness project in the districts most affected by the earthquakes. I’ve built on all the learning from my time at Y Care International; and reinforced by my experience in Nepal, I continue to be a big advocate for two ways of working that are at the heart of Y Care International’s approach.

I continue to be convinced in the power of young people to change their communities, and consequently the world, for the better.  In particular, I believe that young people are essential for building community disaster resilience.  Young people – of different gender, dis/ability, race, religion – must be an active part of this process.  One of the main learnings that has been identified by one of Mission East’s partner organisations is that the youth members of the local disaster management committees which we’ve help establish are the most engaged and active.  This didn’t come as a surprise to me.  At Y Care International, they know that young people are often more open to changing the status quo, and are motivated by a passion to improve the world they live in.  After all, they will continue to live in this world long after the generation before them.

Secondly, I also continue to believe that working with and through local partner organisations – like Y Care International do– is the most effective and sustainable way forward.  I think it is something which all international organisations must strive for; it is not a luxury for when we have time, it’s essential for rapid emergency response and sustainable development.  Through genuine partnerships, organisations like Y Care International and Mission East provide technical support, build skills and capacity of local organisations while relying on them to identify the challenges and solutions for their own communities.  The need for this technical support was shown so clearly in the international response to the Nepal earthquakes; many local charities just weren’t prepared to respond to such a disaster.

I’m still incredibly proud to have worked at Y Care International, and continue to use all I learned from my ambitious colleagues and committed partners across the world.

Follow Lizz Harrison on Twitter: @LizzHarrison2