Jan 12, 2015

Ebola Heroes Sep-Dec 2014

Support group for Ebola Relief workers
Support group for Ebola Relief workers


An IsraAID Support Program for Ebola Affected Communities in West Africa

September-December 2014


The Ebola crisis in West Africa has had massive and devastating effects on the entire region. As of the 25th of November 2014 there have been 5,524 confirmed cases of Ebola in Sierra Leone, and 1,397 deaths (according to the Ministry of Health and Sanitation of Sierra Leone (MOHS)). In addition, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak has also caused widespread stress and trauma in the affected countries, where families of infected patients have been completely isolated by their communities, with some even resorting to violence.  The crisis is compounded by the realities of the affected country, which has recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability, has fragile health system structures and social protection networks, as well as limited human and infrastructural resources.

In September 2014, IsraAID arrived in Sierra Leone to support the psycho-social needs of affected communities, healthcare workers, and Ebola survivors.


During September 2014, an IsraAID team arrived to Sierra Leone for the first needs assessment following the Ebola outbreak.

Following IsraAID’s inclusive policy of corporate-based analysis and piloting, IsraAID’s team met and conducted introductory MHPSS workshops with different actors in the Ministries of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Social Welfare, Gender, and Child Affairs (MSWGCA), and Education, Science and Technology (MEST) as well as the social work department in Fourah Bay College - the leading university in West Africa, as well as leading local and international actors such as G.O.A.L., UNICEF, WHO, AGI, and CDC to better understand the MHPSS needs and the capacity of local responders.

In October 2014, IsraAID was requested by the First Lady of Sierra Leone – Ms. Sia Koroma, a Psychiatric Nurse by profession, to develop a pilot 2-day workshop to introduce to national ministries basic notions of stress management, resilience, and self-care.  During this workshop, nearly 100% of participants (the First Lady included) expressed the need for more knowledge and practical tools to address the overwhelming emotional and psychological challenges created by the EVD crisis. In addition, during a segment on vicarious trauma, government officials (especially those from MOH) strongly advocated for training on self-care to support a health apparatus overwhelmed, exhausted, and traumatized by being on the frontlines of an emergency crisis for over 5 months. These needs were further emphasized during coordination meetings with national and international actors at the MHPSS pillar group, headed by UNICEF and the MSWGCA.

As a result, IsraAID was requested by the Office of the First Lady (OFL), and international actors, to take a lead role on MHPSS service-provider training and supervision.


The ultimate goal of the project is to mitigate the psychological impact of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) on the affected population, emphasizing survivors and service providers.

To do so in a sustainable manner, IsraAID will focus on strengthening the existing MHPSS structures in Sierra Leone through capacity-building. At the same time, to respond to the immediate needs of the on-going EVD emergency, and to mitigate the already devastating social, psychological, and emotional impact of EVD on the affected populations, IsraAID will facilitate the establishment of peer-based support networks for EVD-related service-providers.

The main expected outcomes of the project will be that:

  1. EVD affected persons (including children and survivors, their families, and their communities) and relevant service providers have strengthened coping mechanisms and resilience, and are receiving appropriate MHPSS support.
  2. Service-providers involved in EVD mitigation are conscious of the dangers of vicarious trauma and are part of self-care peer-based support networks.


Since arriving in Sierra Leone in September 2014, IsraAID has accomplished the following:

  1. Needs assessment and introductory workshops
    1. IsraAID conducted several introductory sessions with operators from the 117 as well as INGO social workers.
  2. Awareness raising and sensitization of government ministries to the psycho-social impact of Ebola
    1. In partnership with the Office of the First Lady, IsraAID organized a 2 day workshop for 22 high level representatives of leading government ministries and organizations, organized and attended by the First Lady of Sierra Leone herself.
  3. Training and self-care for healthcare workers and service providers
    1. Pilot training workshops for 60+ social workers and counsellors from several international organizations
    2. Pilot 2 day training/self-care workshop for 23 healthcare workers from the PCM Hospital Ebola isolation unit in Freetown, Sierra Leone
    3. Facilitated 1 day of a 3 day workshop by the national Mental Health Coalition for 56 national PSS service providers
  4. Strengthening the capacity of the 117 national emergency call center
    1. Launching of a peer-support program for 150 call center operators
    2. Development of a training manual for the hotline training
  5. Psycho-Social Support (PSS) and self-care group facilitation for survivors
    1. Establishment of a 10 member survivor group in Freetown that meet regularly and are facilitated by IsraAID PSS Specialists.
  6. Engagement of social work students from local universities
    1. Oriented, interviewed, and selected 12 social work interns who will be trained and mentored by IsraAID’s psycho-social team.
Training for group facilitators
Training for group facilitators
Dec 11, 2014

"Final Months of High-school : A Unique Project"

A visit to the Hasselblad Gallery, Tokyo
A visit to the Hasselblad Gallery, Tokyo

Our mission is to empower individuals and local communities by supporting development of their creativity and
imagination whereby offering creative tools and supporting individuals and local communities in Tohoku area growing out of their difficult experience by  offering psychosocial support.

About Youth Leadership Project:

Youth Leadership Project aims at offering workshop and experience to learn creative thinking, problem

solving and team building skills to young people in Tohoku area. The young people will be also offered the

opportunities to lead the social projects in the community and local schools, utilizing the skills they

learned, to become leaders in the local societies of Tohoku.

Summary of Activities:

(1) A unique documentation workshop of the final months in High-school

Together with our partners from ADRA Japan and Hasselblad camera-maker company we have launched a project with high-school students who evacuated from Futaba city in Fukushima after the nuclear crises.

The students attended an intensive photography workshop in Hasselblad office in Tokyo (October 22), and will utilize what they had learned to document their final months in high-school. Their photos will be displayed in their graduation ceremony and in the Hasselblad gallery in Harajuku, Tokyo, later this spring.

This unique documentation projects allows the students to reflect on their final months of high-school through the camera lens, learn and use photography techniques, and connect to their class-mates and teachers in a new way.

(2) An experiential workshop for NPO workers, disaster supporters and team-members

With the aim of expanding our use of the "Points of You" (POY) tool in our future workshop with high-school students in Tohoku, we have organized an experiential workshop for NPO workers, disaster supporters and team-members last October. The workshop was facilitated by the two developers of this great educational tool, "POY" and the feedback was positive.
For more details about this tool, please visit :

We will update on the developments of both projects in our next report !

We appreciate all your support and looking forward to continue our work in Tohoku.

The students experience photography
The students experience photography
A lecture by a professional photographer
A lecture by a professional photographer
Nov 5, 2014

Voices for the Future

Prof. Amia Lieblich at a VOT workshop in Sendai
Prof. Amia Lieblich at a VOT workshop in Sendai

The Great East Japan Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster uprooted communities, creating one of the largest reconstruction projects ever known to this planet. Rebuilding these communities requires help from the past. By collecting the voices of individual narratives, we are preserving the communities based on the observations of those who persevere in the present- enabling local residents to pass down their memories to later generations and help shape the future. Understanding the past, present, and future vision of a community by residents is dependent on not just one version of events, but a multitude of voices from a variety of observers. The Voices of Tohoku project by means of a video archive is creating a recurrent time capsule that assists both individual families and entire communities to recover from the disaster.


Recently we have heard some amazing stories. Mr. Kikuta (pictured below) is an Ishinomaki local, who has a great knowledge of the area and its history. He assists volunteers who come to Ishinomaki. Mr. Onodera (also pictured below) is a local of the island Oshima, which is located off the coast of Kesenuma. After the disaster Mr. Onodera took up playing the ukulele. As part of his VOT interview, he decided to treat us to a performance of his favorite song: Itsumo Nando Demo. He asked us to upload the video to YouTube for him, his first ever. Please have a look: http://youtu.be/tV8EJXFX8eQ


Over the past two years approximately 200 interviews were collected. To date two community archive projects have been completed in Yamamoto-cho and Watari-cho, two communities on the south coast of Miyagi Prefecture. Currently, we are progressing with three additional archives also in Miyagi prefecture: Tagajo, Ishinomaki, and Kesennuma. In the month of October alone 12 interviews were collected. Besides just collecting new data, we are also editing the videos and providing DVD copies to the respondents, along with a souvenir photograph book. The final videos are uploaded to the Voices of Tohoku website. Please have a look: www.voicesoftohoku.org


Formal collaboration with the Mediatech Library in Sendai and Tagajo City Hall is also being conducted. Workshops on conducting life story interviews were instructed in August by Amia Lieblich, professor emeritus of the Hebrew University who initiated and supervises Voices of Tohoku.  Workshops were also held at universities in Tokyo and Nagoya. Participants were city hall officials, academics, psychologists, and local residents who expressed an interest in conducting life story interviews. As a result of the workshops, collaboration is being made with Tagajo City Hall to conduct interviews at new public housing units.   


Collaboration is also being made with the GlobalGiving Storytelling Project, which collects oral narratives about disaster relief projects. We visit ongoing reconstruction projects, conduct informal interviews with locals and volunteers, and thereby introduce individuals to Voices of Tohoku. Below is a picture of events we attended in October with the storytelling. During the course of the storytelling interviews, we also were able to meet people who later conducted video interviews for Voices of Tohoku.


Until present respondents were recruited by snowball sampling, whereby one interviewee will refer others he or she knows to the project. In an effort to expand our base of respondents, a new flier and poster were created. These promotional materials are being distributed at local community centers, restaurants, and non-profit organizations.


How can you help? Besides just your financial support, we would also appreciate tactical assistance. Please share our contact and website. Do you know someone located in the disaster region who would be willing to have a video interview? Please have them contact us in Japanese or English: contact@jisp.org


Thank you for your assistance,

JISP (The Japan IsraAid Support Team) 

A VOT interview in progress
A VOT interview in progress
Workshop participants practice interviewing
Workshop participants practice interviewing
The Newsee Museum, host of the Ishinomaki archive
The Newsee Museum, host of the Ishinomaki archive
Mr. Kikuta of Ishinomaki Telling His Story, Oct 28
Mr. Kikuta of Ishinomaki Telling His Story, Oct 28
Mr. Onodera of Oshima Playing Us A Song, Sept. 23
Mr. Onodera of Oshima Playing Us A Song, Sept. 23


WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.