Building Resilience in Disaster Zones
From Afghanistan to Uganda, Haiti to Somalia, Yvette Gonzalez has over two decades’ experience with capacity-building and community stabilization in kinetic war zones, natural disasters, and impoverished areas. In this episode, she shares her experiences and lessons learned from her experiences building resilience in disaster zones with host, Dr Shawna Pandya – including where to find some downtime in rural DR Congo (it’s definitely not what you’d expect), and a close encounter in a conflict zone with a restless population, armed rebels and …dynamite (don’t worry, she’s okay!).
Whether community building in rural Latin America, working on hurricane relief in the Bahamas, or dealing with armed conflict in Afghanistan, Yvette shares common themes for building trust, and developing situational awareness: Keep your head on a swivel. Ask questions. Seek to learn. Defer to the experience of the locals.
When trying to strike a sense of balance between capacity building and not burning out, Yvette suggests asking oneself, “why am I going here? Do I need to? What is my intent? Am I doing what the population needs?” Most importantly – don’t forget to look for levity along the way.
An epidemiological expert by training, Yvette Gonzalez has over 22 years of experience building resilience in disaster zones and including communities in active war, conflict, natural disasters, and epidemiological outbreaks. She has worked in complex contexts such as Afghanistan, Bahamas, Benin, Brazil, DR Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Turkey, and Uganda. She crossed over to bring her expertise in operational environments to Space science, research, and tech to solve Earth challenges. She is a member of the International Astronautical Federation, American Indian Science and Engineering Society, and Lunar Exploratory Analysis Group. She serves as the Chief Operations Officer for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS).
YOu can find Yvette via LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yvette-gonzalez-45610a3