Aug 13, 2015

Voices of Tohoku : Summer 2015

VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center
VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center

Dear Donor, 

Thank you very much for your generous support to "Voices of Tohoku".

Voices of Tohoku provides a space to document and learn from disaster experience of earthquake and tsunami survivors. To date, more than 270 testimonies have been collected. Some of these testimonies are online :

In the past three months, VOT team has editted 42 interviews, conducted 5 meetings with community representatives from Tagajo and Ofunato cities, and visited "Honeywell Ibasho House", where elderly people run a community center where all people can feel they belong.

The team has also finalized the next visit of the program's adviser, Prof. Amia Lieblich to Japan this autumn.
Prof. Lieblich will meet people interviewed for VOT in the past years, and hold workshops with community leaders and disaster supporters.

Looking forward to your feedback !

VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center
VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center
VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center
VOT team visits Honeywell Ibasho community center


Jul 2, 2015

Feb - March: The work continues

During months February- June 2015, IsraAID has continued its work with CALCOA farmers' association, in Cabintan, Ormoc, Leyte.

After few weeks of hard work exposing, reinstalling and aligning the water piping system, which was not in use beforehand, and which resulted with the first significant water flow on the project's site, most of CALCOA members took some time to attend their individual fields. This was, in fact, the first good growing season since typhoon “Haiyan” hit the region, as last year, the farmers were busy trying to recover from the typhoon's disastrous effects, and could not properly attend their fields, thus losing their livelihoods.


During this time, in the month of February, IsraAID's agronomist was mainly preoccupied with checking the local market for irrigation systems and protective structures. Finally, he was able to locate a local supplier and to order irrigation equipment from Netaphils company, located in Davao. It is important for IsraAID to work with local suppliers when possible, in order to promise that the association will have access to the same materials/goods, if needed, in the future. He also turned to Top Hamamot company in Israel and started a process of ordering protective structures for the project, after realizing it's not possible, unfortunately to find local suppliers.

IsraAID, will donate a total of 19 protective structures which will be used by CALCOA association farmers to grow their crops in ultimate conditions and to achieve increased quantity and quality of yields.


By the end of the month, the Irrigation equipment arrived at Cabintan, and CALCOA members joined forces to install the new irrigation systems and an old irrigation system, that was left abandoned on site. IsraAID's team trained 7-10 farmers on irrigation system installation and operation. This training included experimental stages in order to demonstrate the effectiveness of the irrigation system on the crops, in comparison to non-irrigated crops.

After over one month leave, and upon his return to Cabintan, IsraAID's agronomist met with CALCOA members in the field. The field was planted with pumpkin and melons. There were visible growth differences between the unirrigated crops, crops irrigated with the old system and crops irrigated with the new system, donated by IsraAID. The farmers were content to notice the differences and agreed that irrigation does have additive effect on the crop. For example: The yield of beans that were irrigated already exceeded five times the expected yield with more to come...


Since returning to the field in mid-April, IsraAID's team has been training the farmers on the agricultural aspects of operating and using the irrigation system, a technology which is new to the farmers of Cabintan.


During this month, IsraAID's team was able to finalize the protective structures order from Top Hamamot Company, in Israel, and it is expected to arrive during July 2015.


During those months, and in parallel to the field work, several visits to the farmer’s individual fields were made. With each farmer an interview was conducted regarding his practice and its economic implications. (Data is still being processed).

In May, IsraAID donated a mist blower to CALCOA farmers' association. It has been proven that application through wind assisted machinery has greater impact of the applied chemical whether it is fungicide, insecticide or foliar fertilizer. This technology was introduced to Cabintan farmers for the first time. Before the mist blower, the farmer’s means of spraying was exclusively with knapsack sprayers. With the great assistance of Stihl team (the local suppliers of the device) in Ormoc and Eugene, the technician coming from Manila, CALCOA members got extensive training on operating the new mist blower. The farmers learned the basic assembly of the device, its basic maintenance and also practiced its use. In addition to the technical training, IsraAID trained the farmers on the proper use of the device, in the agricultural aspect. 

Given that the current dry season in Leyte, has been extremely dry, IsraAID's team together with the farmers, realized this was an important opportunity to examine and measure the water flow at the water source, since it allows getting a realistic picture of the water supply in extremely dry conditions. It appears that the existing water source will be sufficient for the farmers to irrigate the crops in the protective structures donated by IsraAID, even in the dry season. Measuring the water flow, and witnessing the relatively low water flow, demonstrated and emphasized the advantage drip irrigation has over other irrigation methods.

With that being said, IsraAID realizes that any future plans for growth and expansion in scale of cultivated area, will require securing additional water sources.

During June 2015, IsraAID's team and the farmers focused on utilizing existing irrigation systems, donated to CALCOA in the past, by different agencies, and which were not utilized until now, in order to connect as much as CALCOA communal plots to the water system.


Even though the farmers are generally impressed by the yields achieved under drip irrigation, it takes time to incorporate these new agricultural practices to their traditional practices. This requires a long and patient process of trust building, sharing and learning.

As preparation to the upcoming arrival of the protective structures, IsraAID had a meeting with 30 active members of CALCOA association, in order to recruit more farmers to participate in the preparation work needed in the plots, prior to the arrival of the structures. The meeting included presentation of the benefits and the challenges of growing in protective structures followed by Q&A session. The meeting also included an open discussion about the terms of use of the protective structures and the contract between the farmers and the association. The aim of this discussion was that the farmers will jointly decide on the best agreement that will allow the farmers to participate and benefit from using the structures, while still securing the association's income that will allow the association to accumulate capital for further development and possible expansion of the project.

Furthermore, IsraAID offered to provide in depth training to a small group of five community members, committed to the project, in order to transfer the knowledge to local hands, thus sustain the project for the long term, in terms of the farmers' ability to supervise crop management themselves and provide professional guidance to the rest of the farmers.  


During months February – June, IsraAID developed valuable partnership with Energy Development Corporation (EDC). EDC will invest in locally produced protective structures according to IsraAID's offered design, which is largely based on the design of the structures ordered from Israel. This will allow experimenting and examining the quality of these locally produced structures, in the hope to secure the possibility of future expansion of the project, using locally supplied materials.

Since bringing more structures to Cabintan means increased demand of water, IsraAID is also collaborating with EDC in a joint plan to build a dam at the water source.

Moreover, in the past, EDC has invested in irrigation equipment in order to assist farmers to irrigate the plots nearby Barangay Aguiting, Ormoc, Leyte. As part of this collaboration, between IsraAID and EDC, IsraAID has agreed to instruct the farmers in Barangay Aguiting on installation and use of the irrigation system that has been left untouched on site since it was purchased by EDC and to generally provide professional guidance when needed.

IsraAID has also established partnership with the VSU University, in Baybay, Leyte. IsraAID has invited a research group from VSU led by Dr. Zenaida Gonzaga to conduct an experiment in Cabintan. The research is focused on improving yields by using irrigation and structures. IsraAID's team was also invited to visit the experiment plots at VSU in Baybay city. During this visit, IsraAID approached the university’s soil analysis laboratory, in order to conduct soil examinations, once the crops will be harvested, in order to get the most accurate state of the nutrients level in the soil.

Jul 1, 2015

Feb - March: End of Stage 2

Months February - May 2015 were the last 4 months of the 11 months long Family Counselling training which was in fact, the second stage of IsraAID's MHPSS program.

The training was facilitated to homogenous groups of participants who are in teaching, health, social welfare, or protective professions. The program provided the participants with an in-depth learning experience around relevant topics with a focus on Family Counselling in all its many aspects: Adolescence, Child Abuse and Neglect, Group Facilitation, Children and their emotional needs, Family Dynamics in Crisis Situations, Gender Based Violence, Elderly, Loss, grief, and mourning in the family, Domestic Violence, Illness in the family, and Substance abuse and its influence on the family.

 The second stage encompassed four mainly homogenous groups, 20-23 participants per group. These groupings represent the different professions that are in direct contact with the general population in both disaster response and in day to day life.

  1. Department of Health: midwives and health workers
  2. Department of Education: teachers, guidance counsellors, school nurses
  3. Disaster Responders: police, religious sectors, prison officers, firefighters
  4. City Social Welfare and Development: social workers.

 Each group received two days of training per month, facilitated by a therapist who is a specialist in the designated area. The specialists conducted these trainings over a period of two weeks, four days per week, two days per group. One day per week was devoted to preparation and follow-up evaluation of the sessions.

 The participants were given ‘homework’ assignments for the periods between the trainings which were focus on implementing what they have learned in the field. The ‘homework’ consisted of facilitating individuals and/or groups using the content and techniques they learned in the training.

“I was able to apply or put into practice what I have learned. Learning by doing is more effective than just listening or taking down notes. You will remember the things you learn when you put it into practice. I have personally understood how to help children, especially boys to express thoughts by putting it into concrete things/describing rather than directly asking about it.” (2nd stage participant).


February's training focused on Grief, mourning and loss in the family, facilitated by Doctor of Philosophy in Psychodrama therapy, Esti Avnon-Kalev, an Israeli Art Therapist and Head of the Psychodrama training in the Graduate School of Creative Arts Therapies at Haifa University.

This topic is usually not discussed much in the Filipino culture, as it is considered insignificant by many. But in fact, no one is exempted from experiencing loss. One way or another we all have experienced or will experience loss in our lives.

It is evident that the February training introduced new ideas and tools in coping with loss in the family. It can be noted that the participants gained knowledge and practical tools through the activities facilitated, providing them new way of looking at Grief, mourning and loss in the family and the needed confidence to practice what they learnt in the community.

The following are the feedbacks given by the participants to the question: "Do you think that this training is important after the super typhoon Yolanda?"

"Yes, because a lot of people suffered from pain, trauma, grief and loss so what we learned today would really help us."

"Yes, the topics are important after the wrath of Yolanda because it helps to ease the pain and trauma experienced."

"Yes, because in day to day life we can use this experience and help others in dealing with their situation."

"Yes, because it helped me gain techniques on how to handle one's life after experiencing loss in the family".

"Yes, because it is helpful in times of emergencies so that I can manage my mourning first before rescuingothers who are mourning."

"Yes because we all know that all of us have lost properties and even loved ones. It would help us overcometrauma and deal with it."

"Yes, because many victims kept their trauma within themselves and don't know how to release it.  A traumathat is unattended is not healthy for the individual."

"Of course it is. It helps survivors to understand and appreciate the brighter side of life despite the calamity.  It can somehow lighten their loads-emotional and psychological."

"Yes, because it will help people who doesn't know how to resolve their problems in times of grief and trauma in life."

"It was very heavy not only for me but for most of the participants. It was like going through the process of the loss again, the pain and everything that was unconsciously buried in the depths of yourself. I could say that the activities were really helpful in dealing with it and it may not change me the soonest but I know that a part of me was set free and will slowly heal and the void in me will be filled with something more meaningful. There may be shades of black in my life but other colors have always been there too to remind me that life is a beautiful rainbow".


March's training focused on Domestic Violence, facilitated by Iris Hertz, an Israeli therapist, holding a Master degree in Dance and Expressive therapy.

The training explored many different aspects of Domestic Violence, discussing and understanding where domestic violence really stems from and how it's related to ones' personality and history.

March's training has demonstrated that the groups' cohesion and teamwork were developed, thus creating a positive atmosphere, where the participants felt more comfortable in sharing ideas with each other. It is also evident that the training contributed to participants' ability to better understand community members suffering from domestic violence and that they now have appropriate tools for meeting challenges when assisting their significant others and community members, together with  the needed confident to use these newly acquired tools.

The following are the feedbacks given by the participants to the question: "Do you think that this training is important after the super typhoon Yolanda?"

"Yes, because I learnt more and now I can handle myself and apply it in my work with the community."

"Yes, after every disaster, the aggressiveness of a person arises so domestic violence comes in the home."

"Yes, because now we can help not only ourselves but other people also."

"Yes because there are still a lot of people in my community who suffer emotionally, physically and mentally."

"Yes, the topic is very important as we deal with it in everyday life. The training helps us to easily cope with these situations and to be able to surpass it."

"The topic is very relevant as it deals with the personality of an individual.  We needed to learn how to understand and deal with an individual is what we need in order for us to be pliant, open-minded as we dealwith clients."

"Yes, because there is a prevalence of domestic violence after Yolanda."

"Yes, because knowing oneself  better would allow you to help a lot of people."

"Yes, because many children experience violence not knowing the effects it has on themselves."


April's training focused on Chronic Illness in the Family, facilitated by an Art Therapist from Hong Kong, HoiLam Tang, who has graduated in the field of Fine Arts and holds a Master degree in Science.

Chronic illness in the family is one of the common causes of stress and burn out among family members.  The training focused on the two aspects of chronic illness in the family. The first aspect is the sick person- the emotions and effects of being ill, and the influence it has on ones' family. The second aspect is the self-care of the caregiver in the family. The training offered ways of empowering both the ill and the caregiver through self-appreciation and positive journaling.

It is evident that April's training had a great contribution to the CSWD group's knowledge and sense of understanding their community members. The training provided the participants knowledge and practical tools which will help them in meeting challenges in relation to Chronic Illness in the Family.

The following are the feedbacks given by the participants to the question: “Do you think that this training is important after the super typhoon Yolanda?”

"Yes, because Yolanda did not just cause damage to properties but also many injuries that changed the family."

"Yes, it helps a lot in understanding the feelings of the sick person and how to handle a sick person especially in considering their emotions."

"Yes, because through art therapy, family members may express how they feel towards an ill family member due to the Super Typhoon."

"Yes, because it helps us to cope and overcome problems and experiences we are facing."

"Yes, the training was really amazing because we learnt how to deal with these kind of situations."

"Yes, of course because it is important to know how to accept the reality when one of the members of the family is sick or has illness."

"Yes, it is very important as member or head of the family. There is a way in which we can have a positive relationship with relatives/immediate family members when illness occurs in our family."


May's training focused on Conflict and Trauma, facilitated by an Israeli Psychodrama Therapist and a theater actress, Orly Lavie. 

The training focused on increasing mindfulness through art and drama therapy and Guided Imagery. 

This was in fact, the last training of the second stage, thus it was also focused on summarizing the 11 months long Family Counselling training.  

May's training demonstrated that by the end of the 2nd stage, the participants felt very comfortable sharing their ideas with the group, a positive atmosphere was created and participates felt they know themselves better through participating in the training. It is evident that the participants feel more confident using the tools and knowledge they acquired.

The following are the feedbacks given by the participants to the question: “Do you think that this training is important after the super typhoon Yolanda?”

"Yes, because it will help victims find a new perspective in approaching conflict."

"Yes, because it can help and guide me in times of trouble. Now I know how to handle it."

"Yes, because I gained more knowledge and learned how to deal with different problems that I would encounter in the future. This adds a lot to my personal development."

"Yes, it helps the displaced people to become whole again."

"Yes, very much, the psycho-social training opened our minds."

"Yes, the topic is very useful and important. It will be beneficial to our clients to express themselves through acting or dramatization."

"Yes, I can apply it not only to myself but also help others".

"Yes, because it helps me to express the emotions of which I cannot verbally express".

"Yes, I was able to understand myself better. Now I am more open to the fact that each one of us is unique and all we can do is accept it and do what you can."

External MHPSS activities (Apart from the 2nd stage training):

  • Mae, IsraAID's MHPSS Program Coordinator, is facilitating external MHPSS activities in Western Leyte College of Ormoc City and in changing venues according to demand and schedule limitations.
  • Training to police women – during March 2015, Iris Hertez, who was the 2nd stage facilitator for the same month, conducted an additional training day for 12 policewomen working with women who are victims of violence.

 2nd stage graduation ceremony:

During the month of June, IsraAID had its MHPSS second stage graduation ceremony, where 89 graduated received certificates for participating in the Family counseling training.

Ormoc's mayor also attended the ceremony and congratulated the graduates.

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