In October and November 2018, weeks of wildfires razed communities in northern and southern California, burning close to 250,000 acres and causing thousands to evacuate their homes, with over 100 fatalities. In the town of Paradise, Butte County, over 95% of all structures were destroyed, including over 14,000 homes and thousands of additional buildings, five of them schools.
IsraAID has been active in Butte County since November. Starting with a rapid needs assessment, it became clear that we could make a valuable impact by offering psychosocial support trainings to community leaders in order to provide support for displaced communities. Realizing that many of the community leaders we worked with, whether they be counselors, teachers, social workers, or health care workers, all now face a new reality in their personal lives and in their professional work, we wanted to give them as much support in the form of new tools and information to assist in their missions to support their own communities.
Participants were grateful for our sessions, which served not only as an educational opportunity, but also as a safe space for their own process of healing and self-care practices during such a challenging time.
One participant said:
“[IsraAID] brought thoughtfulness and empathy. They had an engaged presence and their experiences brought perspective to our disaster, as they have seen the power of community healing. The [expressive arts tools] are all things I will use in the classroom and with family/community members affected by the fire.”
Following these initial trainings, we are now moving onto more in-depth trainings to meet the needs and fill some of the gaps of the community.
Currently we are finalizing the development of a series of workshops and trainings including Self Care, Managing Wellbeing for Teams, and Psychological First Aid (PFA). Facilitation by mental health experts will begin shortly to different actors and professionals in civil society, including groups of emergency case workers, educators, county department staff, and community leaders from the non-profit and public sectors. These trainings will be able to support those who have been working tirelessly to support their community, and give tools and skills which can remain in the county for years to come, as the local community continues to rebuild stronger together.
More updates from the field to follow ...
Thank you for your support!