Around the country, Israelis mobilise to assist ‘Coronavirus casualties’

March 30, 2020 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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The spread of the novel Coronavirus in Israel continues, and as the almost complete lockdown on Israel’s population remains the population’s need for help grows.

COVID-19 quarantine. Credit: Pixabay.

Israeli society, over the years, has grown accustomed to times of crisis and has developed unique ways to cope with the various predicaments, chiefly by lending a hand to each other and devising creative ways to overcome the obstacles presented by the new and complex reality.

Multiple local organizations at locations across the country have rallied to help the various populations in need, and especially the elderly who are most vulnerable to the virus.

The spread of the Coronavirus has altered life as we know it almost overnight, completely disrupting plans and bringing many walks of life to a complete standstill, and likewise, the civil society humanitarian organizations have altered their activities to contend with the new reality.

The Emergency Volunteer Project (EVP), which usually trains and deploys international teams of professional responders to volunteer in Israel, has been operating in northern Israel and is providing warm meals to those in need.

Eitan Charnoff, EVP’s Director of Deployments, told TPS that “due to the international nature of Corona, physical international assistance is out of the question.”

Therefore, EVP has “opted to deploy our mobile kitchen, and thanks to the generous donations from several individuals and groups in the United States, we are currently providing 600 warm fresh meals per day to the most needy populations in Israel,” Charnoff explained.

EVP founder and CEO Adi Zahavi added that “thanks to close collaboration with several municipalities and mayors, including that of Kiryat Shmone, EVP is able to provide a critical service in this unprecedented time.”

In Katzrin in the Golan Heights, high school kids who have been out of school after the system was closed due to the spread of the virus have engaged in packing and distributing food packages to those in need.

The Door 2 Dor (generation in Hebrew) project enables the elderly who are at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic to stay safe and maintain a routine without leaving home. With the help of hundreds of young people from around the country, the project purchases medicine and groceries for them.

The Israel Association of Community Centers and Lev Echad have partnered with United Hatzalah of Israel and launched a new national dispatch centre managing volunteers who are providing aid to humanitarian emergencies across the country.

The new partnership, which is managing some 30,000 volunteers, has given birth to the largest humanitarian aid group currently operating in Israel.

The mission of the new dispatch centre is to send volunteers to help the elderly, people with disabilities, or those stuck in home isolation as quickly as possible.

The call centre received some 5,000 calls in its first 24 hours of activity, mostly pertaining to assistance in purchasing food and medication. The call centre has since been expanded to 20 operatives to deal with the flow of incoming traffic.

Several of the requests for assistance came from social workers from around the country who turned to the centre with inquiries for residents who are being cared for by the welfare services in different cities.

United Hatzalah Director-General Eli Polk share that the organization ” knew that there were many civilians, especially the elderly and people with disabilities, whose lives were completely disrupted and in need of assistance. But we, too, were surprised by the huge amount of people who called the hotline.”

“From a single mum who wants us to help with the transportation of a medication for her son who suffers from allergies to an elderly person who called just to talk to someone because he has been home alone for several days and has not spoken to anyone since. These people, even if happily not infected with the virus, are definitely Corona casualties,” he said.

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