The number one question we get asked is……

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The number one question we get asked is, “How long will it be until we are ‘recovered’?”  This is understandable as certainty is like gold to those who are rebuilding their lives after disaster.

 We were discussing this question around the dinner table and lamenting that it’s not an easy question to answer. Felicity, a teenage family member, rolled her eyes and said it was easy to explain – that it was like hiking with dad.

 “When I’m hiking with Dad it’s always long and tough and I’m desperate to know when we will be done, so I keep bothering him. ‘How long? How much further?’  Dad, who hasn’t done it before, gives me his best guess but pretends he actually knows.  He says, ‘We’ll be there by lunchtime.’ Or, ‘We’re half way.’ Or, ‘We must nearly be there!’  I get fed-up not knowing so we start to argue over which direction to take. We stand at the fork in the trail arguing over the map. Where to? How best to get there? How much energy will it take?  All this arguing is making the hike even longer. We finally make a decision only to discover an unexpected obstacle – a cliff has crumbled away and blocked the path we have chosen, and I start to wonder if we ever will ever get there.” 

 Just like Felicity’s dad, recovery leaders come under relentless pressure to set timeframes due to the public’s need for certainty, but they don’t really know themselves.  As time goes on, it turns out that almost every decision is a contest of ideas, political interests, legal implications and unknown factors. Often it is only later that the full extent of the damage and the complexities of getting the work done are understood. It all takes more time than is accounted for.

You can expect that every timeframe you are given is a rough guess So, it pays to multiply your time-frames by at least three to get a better estimate. Our experience tells us that if people think it will take five years to rebuild a city, it’s more likely to take fifteen; two years to repair houses is more likely to be six, and so on….

 It is best to strap on those hiking boots and to prepare for unknown terrain and distance.  It will be tough, but much will unfold and reveal itself with time. There will be moments where the clouds will part, and you’ll realise with wonder how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned. 



  •  It’s best to hold your health and relationships as your guiding stars as they are what will sustain you over time.

  • Set yourself up with a longer and kinder timeframe. You will be better prepared to go the distance.

Jolie and Elizabeth