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Israel Leads Rescue and Response Efforts Worldwide with IsraAID

Our Federation supports our Israeli family and advocates and educates on their behalf. That’s why we wanted to share how one Israeli organization is making a global impact.

When natural disasters strike, whether here at home or thousands of miles away, we often feel powerless to help those who need us most. In recent weeks, we have seen the devastation in Ecuador and Japan.

First, a 6.2-magnitude quake, then a 7.0 struck Japan’s Kyushu Island, toppling buildings and leaving hundreds of structures in piles of rubble. More than three dozen lost their lives, many more were trapped and injured, and thousands were displaced from their homes. In Ecuador, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake took more than 650 lives, injured more than 2,500 and damaged property and infrastructure throughout the country.

Though most of us do not have the resources or expertise to fly to Japan and Ecuador to offer firsthand help, we are proud that a group of Israelis with the organization IsraAID is there — just as they have been for the last decade following disasters all over the world, from the earthquake in Haiti, to the typhoon in Singapore and even Hurricane Sandy in the Northeast.

We are proud, not only because IsraAID represents the truest values of tikkun olam and service, but because our Federation was an early partner and helped IsraAID grow to the organization it is today.

Comprised of medical professionals, search and rescue squads, post-trauma experts and more, IsraAID mobilizes to save lives in “countries affected by war, natural disaster, acute poverty and massive displacement,” according to a flyer.  It is also committed to helping “the changing needs of populations as they move from crisis to sustainable living.” This is one of the attributes that separates IsraAID from many other relief organizations — its focus on helping struggling communities reach long-term stability.

In Japan, IsraAID has been distributing food, water and other necessities to the most vulnerable populations in areas affected by the April earthquake. They are also offering psychological first aid, such as trauma counseling, to help those who continue to suffer from stress and anxiety. In addition, IsraAID has been operating childcare spaces to keep kids’ minds from the harsh reality they are living as their parents and communities try to pick up the pieces.

In Ecuador, IsraAID deployed a search and rescue team to help locate survivors trapped in the rubble. They also immediately set up a field hospital in one of the villages hardest hit by the quake, providing emergency medical treatment among other services.

Discovering that IsraAID responds to people in need following natural disasters should be of particular interest to Angelenos given that seismologists continuously remind us the Big One is coming. To know that, in addition to local and national rescue teams, Israel would be here to help us in L.A. is extremely comforting.

According to IsraAID’s website, its teams have “responded to crises in 35 countries, reached over 1 million people, distributed over 1,000 tons of relief and medical supplies, trained more than 5,000 local professionals and mobilized over 850 staff, volunteers and professionals.” Because of our Federation’s past support, they’ve accomplished all of this in just 15 years — and that’s something we can all be proud of.

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