Israel in Fiji

March 21, 2016 by J-Wire News Service
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Six Israelis flew to Fiji to offer help in rebuilding areas in the island grip following last month;s Tropical Cyclone Winston which claimed 43 lives.

They have been  joined by Yaron Sultan-Dadon from Israel’s embassy in Canberra who is one of those responsible for Israel’s relations with Fiji and 12 members of a Fijian NGO based in Melbourne.

Ben Gido and volunteer unloading a portable water testing lab.

Ben Gido and volunteer unloading a portable water testing lab

Winston has been the worst cyclone to have ever have hit this small pacific nation.  54,000 people are still living in emergency shelters. There is a desperate need for humanitarian assistance for up to 120,000 people with an additional 350,000 people deeply affected and still recovering from the trauma and damage reaped by Winston.

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IsraAID architect Reizy Dagani determining the extent of damage

Through the support of the International Development branch of the Israeli Ministry for Foreign Affairs, “Mashav”, a team of specialists from “IsraAID” alongside members of the Israeli Embassy based in Canberra are working with the NGO Island Breeze Australia to assist in the recovery process. The team is working on the island of Ovalau in the remote village of Vuma which has been almost completely wiped out by the impact of the cyclone. The aim of the team is to implement a holistic rehabilitation of the village through engaging with the community to provide a range of aid and specialist services. Such an approach draws on the skills of the Israeli specialists working with the community to implement projects aimed at not only rebuilding homes and shelters but also at providing crucial services such as water treatment, sanitation needs and psychosocial support.

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IsraAID water engineer Ben Gido testing water quality with the Water Authority of Fiji

Meeting with government officials, community representatives, and local leaders, the team has begun the initial phase of the mission, which is conducting a needs based assessment in order to coordinate how best to deliver immediate first aid to the affected peoples. The team will then focus on delivering mental health and psycho-social support to those affected by drawing on Israeli specialists. The final phase of the mission involves delivering and rehabilitating vital water, sanitation and hygiene services.

One of the goals of the project is to develop specialist knowledge and skills within the community that will aid the ongoing recovery process.

IsraAID psychosocial support expert Hela Yaniv talking with village residents

IsraAID psychosocial support expert Hela Yaniv talking with village residents

The unique holistic approach of the mission involves a rare combination of Israeli technical expertise, diplomatic initiative and volunteer support to focus on individual and community outreach. By developing a range of long-term and sustainable programs the team aims to formulate a template for replicating the successes of Vuma in other villages and affected areas of Fiji.

The comprehensive approach taken by Mashav, IsraAid, Island Breeze and the Embassy of Israel exemplifies the commitment we as a team have to our friends and partners in the nation of Fiji as well as our desire to see them safe and strong again.

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