Non-profit group partnered with Team Rubicon to assist residents
By Dawn Booth, Connect Weekly
Help has congregated to the Wood Buffalo region in masses. From rehabilitation professionals to military veterans; many professionals, philanthropists and everyday people have been coming to resolve and rebuild the city in several ways and forms.
Most recently, residents were welcomed by a group of eight volunteers from IsraAID – an Israeli non-profit and non-governmental global organization. In May, IsraAID assisted residents with wellness needs of evacuees in Edmonton. The group was invited later to come to Fort McMurray by Team Rubicon USA to sift residents’ destroyed homes.
“Once the city announced the re-entry, we were invited by our long-time partners at Team Rubicon to come up and assist with their team’s efforts,” said Natalie Silverlieb, Canada Head of Missions for IsraAID.
On June 12, IsraAID deployed an Emergency Relief Team of experts to offer relief aid in two main areas: debris management and psychosocial support (PSS).
With the organization leading aid and development programs in 17 countries around the world, the Team’s mission and driving factor was to hear stories from Fort McMurray residents’ first-hand and build relationships from them.
This helped IsraAID gain a full understanding of their needs. Silverlieb explained it’s the key to helping benefit the post-tragedy situation.
“Partnerships are key in recognizing how we can offer the right kind of support,” she said. “This is a critical piece of how we work. We have a variety of expertise that we offer when responding to a crisis. However, we do not claim to be ‘experts’ on the community itself.”
The debris management portion had the IsraAID group and Team Rubicom providing sifting services, which resulted in an average of 90 homes per day.
“The team was incredible, and really put their hearts and souls into providing homeowners with some relief. Some sense of closure through the memorabilia and valuables they managed to retrieve from the ashes,” Silverlieb shared. “These were not just ‘objects’, but a piece of someone’s life, a family’s story, and their history.”
IsraAID also offered PSS programs and workshops to several organizations in the community. IsraAID is recognized globally as one of the leading innovative agencies in providing long term mental health and psychosocial support programs in disaster hit areas around the globe. This includes mental health support to Tsunami victims in Japan, typhoon victims in the Philippines, and people affected by the earthquakes in Haiti, to name a few.
“We had the opportunity to host two initial workshops during our two weeks in Fort Mac,” she said. “Based on IsraAID’s Training of the Trainers (TOT) methodology, the workshops engaged local artist, and community leaders through an introduction to expressive arts therapies and tools for psycho-social support.”
The workshops were held at the Red Poll Centre, as well as River Station Arts.
“They offered a safe space for the participants to explore their own healing process, and begin to delve into how they can offer others support in their own small communities and professional sectors,” she said.
Due to the positive feedback, the Team is currently developing a plan to send a PSS professional team to Fort McMurray to partner with local organizations, where they will offer a series of training workshops to professionals in the frontline of community support.
“We hope to engage with the many incredible leaders in the community – teachers, social workers, artists, health professionals, police, fireman etc., and provide continued support to participants to develop their own workshops, meetings, gathering, and ways of connecting and offering support in their individual sectors,” she said.
“I have seen how strong and resilient the Fort Mac community is. And, through our trainings, we hope to be able to provide a platform for enhancing this inspiring community’s capacity to recover and rebuild, stronger than ever.”
Learn more about IsraAID at www.israaid.co.il. Silverleib can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Connect Weekly –