Effective leaders emerge in crises and show that sustainable change is driven by the champion actors for change.
Imagine being stranded with no food, no water, no shelter, and no power for several days. Cries for help seem to go unheard. Until, a team of neighbours who remember that they had been in the same position show up loaded down with everything that you need! Such is the condition for the people of the Bahamas as their neighbours in South Florida, about 60 miles away, answer their urgent pleas.
Sustained change requires champions of change. So,
“Recruiting frontline employees to share the need for change (and the benefits) with their peers can speed up worker buy-in, lower the degree of resistance, and serve as a mechanism for collecting feedback and disseminating information regarding the planned change initiatives”(Business Enterprise Mapping (2017; https://www.businessmapping.com/blog/5-effective-change-management-strategies/).
The same principle holds true in coordinating immediate and long-term relief efforts.
Oftentimes we look for change to come from Heads of States or from regional institutions because they are big. However, Community Psychologists understand that individual behaviour is a result of community action (Dalton, Elis & Wandersman, 2006). And, the most lasting change is driven by communal relationships where there are strong emotional bonds, a shared personal experience, and supportive communal networks (https://www.amazon.com/Community-Psychology-Linking-Individuals-Communities/dp/0534634540).
In Jamaica, we know all too well the power of powerful storms and the effects of persistent droughts which affect land use patterns and water supply systems (Mitchell, 2014). At a glance, Jamaica experienced 11 storm events (including 5 major hurricanes) and several flood events between 2001 and 2012. Combined, these events resulted in loss and damage amounting to approximately J$128.54 billion (State of the Jamaican Climate 2012 Report). Noteworthy are Hurricane Ivan (2004) where the loss was equivalent to 8.0% of GDP; and, Hurricane Sandy (2012) which totalled J$9.7 billion or 0.8% of 2011 GDP in direct and indirect damage. Additionally, the health, housing and education sectors were the worst hit, accounting for 48% of the total costs in damages. There was 1 death and 291 injuries that resulted from Hurricane Sandy (Mitchell, 2016; p. 5).
So, Prime Minister Holness’ swift offer of support to our neighbours results from a shared experience. So too was the commitment from the head of the University of the West Indies which has a training facility in The Bahamas (Public Broadcasting Corporation, 2019, mins. 6:49-8:12).
In addition to regional support from the Caribbean, the Bahamians are waking up to truckloads of support to their neighbours in South Florida.
“By Friday morning, South Floridians were touching down in various ports of entry on Grand Bahama island, through the air and the warm waters of the Atlantic sea.
At the port of Freeport, a cruise ship arrived with more than 225,000 pounds of water, food, personal hygiene products, medical equipment and generators. Also on board were representatives from West Palm Beach Fire Rescue, more than 60 medical professionals and 200 Bahamians who’d been stranded on the ship during the storm. …
A team from the University of Miami worked in Freeport on setting up a field hospital to carry the weight of an island hospital that had been flooded. …
… small planes loaded with diapers, water, baby formula and other essential supplies … were landing at an airstrip in the West End.
Loaves of Wonder Bread spilled out of one plane from Orange County. …
At the Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Harbour on Saturday morning, a swarm of about 50 boats arrived full of water, generators, flashlights, diapers and even toys for the young children of the island. The boats sailed out of Pompano Beach and Palm Beach County.
As the boats docked, Bahamians waiting nearby reacted with relief. One woman looked toward the sky and said, “Thank you.”(Boryga, Swisher & Baitinger, 2019; http://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/latinamerica-top-stories/floridians-come-to-bahamas-rescue-but-aid-is-slow-to-reach-the-suffering/ar-AAGXzyw?MSCC=1568039922&ocid=spartandhp).
The devastation is real. The fears are real. But, so too are the relief efforts coordinated by neighbouring champions for change. Pitch in where you can and see more at https://www.dropbox.com/s/civ6jnmfx6lsmdm/Jamaica_CC%26Water2.docx?dl=0 or explore more offerings at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD .