2020 Paul Cull mission year end report. – Paul Cull

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    Ron McGatlin
    Keymaster

    Gidday,

    2020 is finally coming to an end, and I just wanted to send out a quick update to let you know how things have been going with me here in Wellington, and also about the situation back in Brazil.

    As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I started working for the Wellington Region Emergency Management Office (WREMO) in January as a Community Resilience Advisor, although I was deployed into the Regional Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) when the Coronavirus pandemic arrived here in March. I spent nearly four months in the ECC between the first and second COVID responses, working primarily in the operations function in the first activation and as safety manager in the second.

    I have also undertaken a lot of training for the operational response part of my job, and am starting to understand what the community resilience role entails. I inherited 36 Community Emergency Hubs located throughout the Hutt Valley, and just last Sunday we launched my 37th Hub with the participation of the Lower Hutt Mayor. I’ve also audited all of the hubs, run about a dozen workshops and other public events, and participated in some other projects, in addition to the preparation that we are undertaking for a possible COVID resurgence. It has been an amazing opportunity to learn about how emergency management operates in New Zealand, in the midst of our longest-ever activation of the coordination centre and emergency operations centres in the region, and of New Zealand’s first-ever nationwide declaration of national emergency.

    I received my Master of Emergency Management with Distinction at the beginning of the year and was able to participate in a belated graduation ceremony at the end of October. I have also been studying for a Certificate of Adult and Tertiary Training and, despite a delay caused by the COVID response, have been able to complete the first two of the three papers required for this qualification. I have found this course especially helpful as I have begun to work in the New Zealand context again after so long overseas.

    In late June I was able to purchase a used car for myself as, although the job does include the use of a car, this is usually only available on a week-on week-off basis and so I have also been using a fair amount of public transport. This has been complicated by the need to attend community events when they become available, and the scattered nature of the WREMO workplace, where, although I am officially based in Upper Hutt, my office is in Lower Hutt and I am often required to attend training or meetings in Wellington city or Porirua. It has certainly been a relief to finally have my own vehicle, although it developed a serious fault which took it off the road for a month and would have cost over $3,500 to repair. Fortunately, after some persuading, the dealer accepted their responsibility to repair the car and I have just got it back again.

    Considering the extreme lack of rental housing in the region, it was a great blessing for me to able to rent the flat where I am staying in Trentham on short notice at the beginning of the year. However, the owner recently decided to sell the block of flats and I have been concerned that I might have to find other accommodation at short notice. Fortunately, the new owners have decided to keep the tenants at the moment, which is a great relief.

    At the start of November, I took my first week of annual leave since starting at WREMO, although as my car wasn’t working I just stayed at home. I have another week off at the start of December and may try to travel a little, and I will then be on call during the Christmas period. However, I have made arrangements to pop down to Christchurch on New Year’s Eve, and will be staying with brother Nate for a few days.

    This year has been a very tough one for the folk back in Brazil. I mentioned that Felipe had lost his job at the beginning of the pandemic, and so he has moved with his family into what used to be my house and the base. Kevin is still at university and was able to complete both semesters despite the disruption caused by COVID. As some donations have still come through this year, coupled with some of my own contributions, we have been able to assist Kevin with his studies and also help with a number of urgent needs in the Cordoeira slum, including paying for surgery for Wellington who severely cut the tendon in his thumb at a time when no doctors were available in the public hospital. Other needs that we have been able to assist with have included counselling for one person to help them through the COVID experience, medicines and now hopefully physiotherapy for a broken ankle following a motorcycle accident, and some needed repair work on the base. Also, as the young people have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and work is extremely difficult to find at the moment, there have also been opportunities to help with food, clothing and other expenses, such as utility bills. I just want to say a big thank you to everybody who has contributed to the work in Brazil throughout this year.

    Sorry that it’s been a rather long newsletter this time – 2020 seems to have been quite a crazy year for everyone! I trust you have a blessed Christmas and New Year, and that 2021 won’t be quite so challenging for us all.

    Blessings

    Paul

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    News mailing list News@paulcull.org http://paulcull.org/mailman/listinfo/news_paulcull.org

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