Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to get married...

I recently traveled to Brazil to get married, but the night before I found my soon-to-be, father-in-law, Paulo, in a bind. He owns a private technical school and the professor who teaches about jobs in the oil industry was not able to make it. A wonderful gift I received working for the Red Cross is to be like water and adjust easily to situations. I offered to give a CDE (Community Disaster Education) presentation as I normally would with Daya, my fiance, translating. I also modified the disaster kit presentation and plan for people who might work on oil platforms. Arriving at the school I was a little nervous because I was not sure what to expect.

The school occupied six rooms on the second floor of a building above a pet supply store and a beauty parlor. As the students began making their way in, I was surprised not only at the varieties of ages, but at their appearances. I was expecting a rougher looking group. On the contrary, everyone was very nice and from all walks of life. There were even a few girls. With Daya's help, I began asking their names and why they wanted to work in the oil industry. They all had the same basic answer, opportunity. They all had different backgrounds, but everyone wanted a chance for a better life.

In my introduction, I explained I was American and asked if they had any questions. First, I was asked why I was there and then about the Red Cross. Talking about the Red Cross was not a problem. I told them about how the Red Cross was created, about how the international Red Cross is set up, about the various Red Cross symbols and about the origin of the Red Cross logo. I explained how we are not part of the government or attached to a religion. I was a bit surprised by the misinformation which existed, but I was glad I could give them a little better insight and understanding of the Red Cross.

Once all the questions and answers were out of the way I talked to them about disaster kits. The main thing being, it is common sense. I say this because no two people will have the exact same disaster kit. Everyone is different and so are kits. The idea is to have one, to be prepared. We give basic ideas, but it is up to the individual to make it their own.

This, of course, was not my average disaster preparedness talk, not only being in another country but trying to modify the kits for people who may work on oil platforms. I don’t know much about oil platforms, so I asked what other suggestions people had. We had a great discussion, not only about the disaster kit but about being prepared. Through it all I emphasized preparedness.

The students ended up staying late so we could finish. It was fulfilling talking to people who are willing to listen, people who maybe will be a little safer and prepared because I was given an opportunity to talk to them. By the time Daya and I got home, we were both tired. The next day we went to court and got married.