Immediately after the extent of the damage was known, the IsraAID humanitarian NGO sent a team of seven medical professionals to storm-ravaged Philippines
to aid the people struck by Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).
IsraAID's current team of 12 medical and psychosocial professionals in Ormoc, Philippines have been celebrating the Hanukah holiday with partners and colleagues from around the world including the US, Germany, France, Australia and of course the Philippines. The holiday has brought light (both figuratively and literally) to the island that still suffers from electricity and power outages since the typhoon.
At the same time, the team has made strong headway in its medical, psychosocial and livelihood projects, and further cemented IsraAID as one of the leading organizations with an integrated model for the rehabilitation and recovery of Ormoc and its surrounding municipalities.
A new IsraAID team on the ground is working closely with American, German and Filipino doctors, equipped with a new batch of medicine and medical equipment. IsraAID remains active in the Ipil district, and the total number of patients treated to date has risen to well over 1,500. In keeping with the community based approach, 1-2 day mobile clinics are conducted in each of the neighborhoods in the district.
In addition, as other organizations begin to pull out, IsraAID has been called upon by the Department of Health to both adopt another district of over 45,000 people (the largest in the city), and support the main city health center which is losing its international medical backing. At the request of the UN and the US government liaison, IsraAID is also providing health services in two villages outside the city.
Treating children in typhoon-struck Philippines (Photo: IsraAID)
Due to recent reports of increasing numbers of cases of depression, anxiety, and other related mental health symptoms, IsraAID has begun to offer resilience training to 50 volunteers (mostly daycare workers, social workers, and teachers). These volunteers are responsible for running psychosocial activities with children in the 29 evacuation centers serving over 1,080 homeless households within the city. In addition, IsraAID professionals are now developing a long-term training and mentoring program, with the goal of expanding to the five other major areas, including Tacloban and Palo.
Following a request from the city departments of health and education, IsraAID has begun training programs for key members of the 1,544 teachers in Ormoc city. This training is crucial for the long-term psychosocial health of the children, and the prevention of trauma-related issues. As a result of all these developments, IsraAID has been invited by the city to take the lead on psychosocial/trauma programs, and to present its findings, methodology and curriculum to the international and national organizations working in the municipality.
Recent assessments on the ground have revealed a growing number of reports of domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence since the crisis destroyed families and livelihoods. In response, IsraAID aims to further investigate the situation and build a task force in cooperation with both the department of social welfare and the PNP (Philippines National Police) Women's Desk to address the situation.
IsraAID's Psycho Social Intervention in Ormoc, Philippines (Photo: IsraAID)
Rehabilitation and livelihoods
While the immediate emergency needs are being addressed, IsraAID is working with several key partners on the rehabilitation of educational infrastructures and livelihood initiatives.
Accompanied by the departments of education and engineering, IsraAID visited both the Ipil National High School and the adjacent Ipil Central Elementary School to assess typhoon-related damages. The team worked in close coordination with the Australian Army (flanked by Australian Aid) to clear the debris and build make-shift shelters before schools reopen in early December.
Our team has also been compiling information on the state of the fishing community of Macabug and have thus far identified potential households as well as four major municipal programs for support with rehabilitation and enhancement of the livelihood using Israeli innovation and know-how