In the words of the former chief of staff of the Black Panther Party, survival programs are meant to “meet people’s immediate needs while simultaneously raising their consciousness”. They are survival programs pending revolution.
Rebuilding and Resilience Program: including debris clean up, the cleaning, repair and rebuilding of individual’s homes, and community buildings such as schools and churches, and educating about and providing the necessary materials for disaster survivors to safely clean up their flooded homes.
Disaster Relief Distribution Program: including the distribution of water, food, diapers, toilet paper, clothes, cleaning and other supplies directly to survivors of disaster, and setting up distribution hubs where community members can acquire needed goods without paternalistic or stigmatizing rules, regulations, bureaucracy or red tape.
Wellness Program: Including the setup of wellness centers and community clinics in the wake of disasters, sending mobile teams of street medics, herbal medics, massage therapists, acupuncturists, doctors, and other medical professionals to disaster zones to provide medical aid to disaster survivors and relief workers. Providing psychological first aid, trauma counseling, harm reduction, peer mental health, access to life-saving medication, and other services to promote immediate survival and long-term emotional, psychological, and physical well-being.
Sustainability and Ecological Resilience Program: Let’s face it. We cannot rely on Nestle to donate water or private electric utilities to provide life-saving electricity after a disaster. With this program, we are informed by a respect for the intersectionality of all living systems, as well as community norms and practices. Here is where permaculture meets disaster response. We spread the knowledge of and access to ecologically-sound and economically viable systems designs which provide for community’s survival needs and do not exploit or pollute. We empower individuals and communities to create or regenerate diverse, resilient communities that meet immediate ecological, economic, and social needs while increasing the health of human bodies, relationships, and the ecosystems in which they are embedded. In practice, this takes the form of sustainable and autonomous infrastructure development, creating water purification systems, building photovoltaic solar arrays, and other ecologically sound response and rebuilding efforts.
Sanando Puerto Rico: Sanando Puerto Rico is a small, autonomous, independent team of doctors, nurses, and street medics, some with disaster relief experience, most with family on the island, all committed to supporting Puerto Rican communities most affected both by the recent hurricanes and ongoing structural violence in Puerto Rico. Following reports from family members, friends and colleagues, this team is traveling to some of the most inaccessible areas, where many have not received any assistance and communication is incredibly difficult. This team has the flexibility, skills, and experience to go wherever the need is greatest,we are autonomous, do-no-harm and work from the mindset of mutual-aid, not charity. In each location Sanando Puerto Rico completes 3 vital tasks:
1) Free medical care: Team has set up street clinics in shelters, carports and a baseball diamond, to name just a few.
2) Network to assess communities: Team meets these needs immediately when we can and connects to other support through partnerships. And,
3) Connects trained medical volunteers: to communities in struggle, building an ongoing structure of mutual-aid.
Invisible Disasters Program: just because the major disasters stop doesn’t mean we do. There are always ongoing disasters of social and economic inequality. When we are not responding to people’s self-determined needs in the context of hurricanes, tornadoes, and fires, we are applying the same Mutual Aid Disaster Relief principles in our hometowns, creating local survival programs to strengthen our community’s resilience, raise people’s consciousness, and increase people’s empowerment. These survival programs have included a free laundry program, free haircuts, free breakfast program, free groceries, and free field trips for children and their families in low-income apartments, and a lot more.