DMCG or Disaster Management Community of Reconciliation Group is based in Barrio Obrero, Iloilo City in the Philippines.
It operates out of a poor community where 76% live below the poverty line. This private rescue group responds to a variety of disasters and emergencies from fire calls to oil spills.
DMCG believes that social responsibility demands people to "own" their community and work for its development and progress. It values people's initiative to give of themselves for others, out of sheer love for service and community. It recognizes the value of each individual in a community. It is the same and equal to the value of all the individuals gathered collectively. The organization believes that it is important to see that love and sacrifice offered to a community come as part of its daily duty as members of that community. "No one is so poor that he or she has nothing to give, and no one so rich that he or she can not receive."
Although the community is one of the poorest, one only has to look beneath the surface to find true wealth in its volunteers.
DMCG was formed in 2003 and oversees emergencies that may befall 20,000 households.
Barrio Obrero is surrounded by four oil and gas depots and partly surrounded by water, making it a high disaster risk. Thus the creation of DMCG as a relief organization for the most vulnerable community.
The community is now more confident in facing ‘disasters’ because of the example set by the members of the DMCG. There is strength in knowing that regardless of one’s limitations, the people when organized face challenges with a stronger sense of fellowship, unity and dignity.
DMCG's objective is to train and prepare the community volunteers on how to respond during disasters and calamities - to save their lives, their families and their communities.
Skills training and spiritual development go hand in hand as part of DMCG's mission. The group's members are all volunteers who have given their time and service during the last 3 years without financial gain -- all with the desire to help their neighbor and to make a difference.
Volunteers range from laborers to housewives to students to parish workers. They participate in trainings, disaster simulation exercises and various community activities.
"I realize that I have a deeper purpose in the society other than being there for my family and friends." - Juderic, DMCG volunteer
"It gives a good feeling to be able to help without asking for anything in return." - Ronnie, DMCG volunteer
Most of the residents of Barrio Obrero are fire victims of the great fire in Iloilo City in 1966 which had the city government relocating most of the victims to this barangay.
It was a difficult undertaking for institutions like the Parish Catholic Church and the Religious of the Assumption Congregation to challenge the residents to organize themselves for the purpose of developing their community and ‘owning’ it as one. However, though it was difficult in the beginning, the task proved successful and soon it became a ‘showcase’ for various NGO’s and Church Organizations to acknowledge and began to be recognized.
The barangay had much potential and its track record of organized groups and later on becoming a pioneer of a participative, empowered people were giving its residents confidence to initiate projects that would prove beneficial to the whole community.
In November 2004, DMCG saw the need for people to organize themselves as fire broke out in a neighboring barangay which had difficulty in controlling the fire because of no organized plan for evacuation and crowd control by their barangay.
The people were left to depend solely on government institutions founded to address these concerns like DSWD, Philippine National Red Cross, Fire Stations, etc. The past years have also seen, many typhoons hit the province of Iloilo which brought much damage to property and have injured quite a number of people.
Considering how the country is prone to typhoons, this makes ‘rescue work’ highly probable particularly for floods and evacuation movements in Barrio Obrero and other parts of the city. The existence of shanty towns in the city also makes it a fire hazard thus, the need for support structures that would provide education and assistance to institutions to address concerns in disaster management.