Responding to Crisis in Asia
The B'nai B'rith International (BBI) Center for Community Action (CCA) helps BBI serve individual Jewish communities and the world, providing disaster relief and services to those in need, promoting respect for others and celebrating diversity, and offering a helping hand.
Mobilizing Aid to Japan
On March 11, 2011, Japan was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake followed by a tsunami—said to be the fifth largest in history—that sent waves as high as 33 feet to pummel the shoreline causing devastation and destruction. B’nai B’rith once again mobilized its Disaster Relief Fund and raised nearly $90,000 to aid the victims.
Working with our partner IsraAID (the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, of which B’nai B’rith is a founding member), emergency response teams were quickly dispatched and child-friendly spaces set up at evacuation centers. Later in the year, teams trained teachers in devastated areas to deal with post-trauma crises and provided equipment for child-friendly facilities that helped 800 children in affected areas. In the coastal city of Watari, kits of school supplies, computers and printers were provided by the B’nai B’rith-IsraAID coalition to 100 young victims of the earthquake and flood.
In July 2011, B’nai B’rith funding went to another IsraAID program which provided basic relief supplies and children’s kits as well as post trauma training to teachers and local government officials who operate and head relief programs and facilities.
To mark the one-year anniversary of the tsunami and earthquakes, the B’nai B’rith Disaster Relief Fund has allocated $25,000 for a project organized by IsraAID (the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid) of which B’nai B’rith is a founding member, to document earthquake and tsunami survivor testimonies in Japan’s Miyagi prefecture.
The project’s goal is to collect testimony from 300 survivors and witnesses of the March 2011 Tsunami/Earthquake with the help of local volunteers. The testimonies—written, videos and photographs—would then be used to expand existing archives and museums throughout Japan, making the testimonies available for educational and commemorative use in Japan and worldwide.
> Read the article in B'nai B'rith Magazine about relief in Japan.
B'nai B'rith Joins Israeli Disaster Relief Efforts in Flood-Ravaged Philippines
B’nai B’rith International, through its partnership with IsraAID, provided disaster relief to the Philippines after the 2009 deadly typhoons and subsequent flooding. Estimates have the death toll at more than 300 and more than 500,000 people were left homeless. The B’nai B’rith International Disaster Relief Fund helped the devastated country recover.
“The tragedy in the Philippines underscores the vital need for strengthening international bonds,” said then-BBI President Moishe Smith. “A natural disaster reminds us how vulnerable we all are, and how much our world is interconnected.
B’nai B’rith is a founding partner of Tel Aviv-based IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, which is an umbrella organization for more than 35 Israeli and Jewish non-governmental organizations. The first team of doctors, nurses, and logisticians departed October 9 to hard-hit Laguna and Marikina, near Manila.
The Israeli ambassador in the Philippines worked with the government and the local Red Cross to coordinate efforts. The team focused on health and sanitation and provided training to local rescue teams. During its two week deployment, and upon their return, the team helped develop options for long-term assistance.
Israel and the Philippines have long enjoyed a positive relationship. The Philippines accepted Jews fleeing the Holocaust and was the only Asian nation to vote at the United Nations in favor of the creation of the state of Israel.
“The unique history between Israel and the Philippines makes our ability to help all the more meaningful,” Daniel S. Mariaschin, B’nai B’rith International executive vice president, said. “But B’nai B’rith’s disaster relief program helps the community at large, regardless of religion.”
Southeast Asia Tsunami
The December 2004 tsunami in Asia caused indescribable loss and destruction. The B'nai B'rith Disaster Relief Fund contributed nearly $1 million to help meet immediate needs and address long-term rebuilding of lives and livelihoods.
Some of IsraAID's most important work was done in Sri Lanka – the country hardest hit by the Southeast Asian tsunami in December 2004. IsraAID was one of the first civilian teams to arrive, providing food and basic necessities, then moving on to building shelter and rebuilding lives and livelihoods. IsraAID maintained a presence in Sri Lanka for three years.
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