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Italy Earthquake Response

by IsraAID
Italy Earthquake Response
Psycho-social support in Amatrice, Italy
Psycho-social support in Amatrice, Italy

While natural disasters leave physical signs of destruction that are visual and tangible, the psychological wounds can have long-lasting effects, reverberating long after the houses or civic structures are physically rebuilt. 

It’s been a year and a half since the earthquake struck the town of Amatrice and its surrounding areas. Most displaced people have already received temporary, but comfortable homes, and are ‘resettling in’. However, the psychosocial wounds are still open. 

When we met Sonia, owner of an agritourism business in Torrita (fraction of Amatrice), she said 'Amatrice e ancora nostra'( Amatrice is still ours). 'My house was the house of my father, the house of my grandfather, the home of our family generation, of our roots... and it has all disappeared. We have no more memories.' To cope with these difficult feelings, Sonia began make sculptures, trying to recapture the memories that were lost.

Sonia’s sculptures are now a symbol around Amatrice, representing the healing process that the community is going through, with great pain and bravery.

Stories like these truly present the strength of the Amatriciana people - stories of parents who lost their children; of a police officer who lost his whole team; people who share their stories of love for their land, for their families, for their community. Simple stories that emerge between the physical debris that remains evident around the city, and feelings that show the community’s resilience and hope for the future.

This was the first time, after a year and a half, that the IsraAID Italy team felt a tangible change in the community of Amatrice. Arriving and leaving Amatrice, the debris is usually the first thing that you see - not anymore. There is something new developing, something that you can only feel but it has a strong presence!

IsraAID is currently preparing for the second phase of capacity-building with Legacoop, to continue and strengthen the community of Amatrice and it’s surroundings.  

More updates to follow! Thank you for your support!

Destruction caused by the earthquake!
Destruction caused by the earthquake!
Art therapy groups!
Art therapy groups!
Sonia's sculpture of her home pre-earthquake!
Sonia's sculpture of her home pre-earthquake!
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The 25 participants during the training in October
The 25 participants during the training in October

'My house was the house of my father, the house of my grandfather, the home of our family generation, of our roots... and is all disappeared. We have no more memories.' Caterina, Amatrice

IsraAID continues its work with post trauma prevention and reduction in Amatrice and the surrounding villages and towns. The ruins of the earthquake are still visible in the town of Amatrice; a constant reminder of the event that took the lives, homes and memories of hundreds of families. IsraAID’s team recently conducted a pilot training in psychological first aid and psycho-social support in emergencies to social workers, therapists and teachers from the area to respond to the needs of the affected population and future emergencies in the country.

The 4-day training and workshops were a pilot for the long term capacity building program that will start in December. The long term program is built to strengthen the local mechanism for emergency response and trauma relief in Italy - using innovative tools and know-how. Through peer-learning groups and supervision, this program has the potential to become the basis for a national emergency response program. 

AMATRICE - 1800 people were displaced by the earthquake in 2016 and are now living in temporary or new houses.

Twenty-five social workers, teachers and psychologists from central Italy participated in IsraAID’s psychological first aid and psycho-social support training, using a tailor-made curriculum specific to the context of the emergency (earthquake) in Italy.

The impact of providing psychological first aid to survivors is immediate and positive, normalizing stress reactions and easing distress levels in all who are reached.  Psychological first aid was designed to reduce the initial distress caused by traumatic events, and to foster short- and long-term adaptive functioning. The team established a human connection in a non-intrusive, compassionate manner maintaining a calm, non-judgmental demeanor.

Training: The implementation module focused on the definition and symptoms of trauma, resilience, and resources. Another key element of the training was how to operate during an emergency with particular attention to the psycho-social needs. During the four-days training, participants were deeply involved, asking questions and grappling the topics as they were taught. The training focused on both theory and practical application of concepts using an experiential approach.

"This training was the “safe place” for me; each of us had the opportunity to express themselves without receiving any annulment. I’m going home rich and brighter, as there was no question without an answer much more than my expectation”. Fabio, 34

The training sessions were meant to help build their capacity, bolster their personal coping mechanisms and give them an outlet for their own stress.The methodology used during the training was delivered through: working groups; simulation in pairs; painting, art-therapy, discussion through various questions conducted by the lecturer (open and closed questions), sharing their own experiences. One training took place in Amatrice, where the group had also the opportunity to visit nearby the Red Zone, as many of them knew the situation only via media. The last two training days took place in Rome.

Thank you for your help and stay tuned for the next phase of the program. Continue to support our team in Italy by donating now – the population of Amatrice still needs you help!

House still in ruins, October 2017
House still in ruins, October 2017
A bet room, Amatrice October 2017
A bet room, Amatrice October 2017
Visiting the Red Zone of the earthquake, Amatrice
Visiting the Red Zone of the earthquake, Amatrice
Group work during training
Group work during training
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Amatrice, August 2016
Amatrice, August 2016

One year has gone by since the earthquake devastated central Italy, killing 269 people and causing major destruction of homes, buildings and infrastructure. 

IsraAID arrived less than 36 hours after the earthquake to provide emergency relief and psychological support to help mitigate the long-term effects of the traumatic event. During the past year, IsraAID has done several distributions of items such as heaters, blankets, food and hygiene kits - much appreciated by the families still living in temporary houses and mobile homes.

During the spring, IsraAID conducted several trainings for the community leaders to build resilience and strengthen the affected population as they are going through the transition from crisis to sustainable living. 

The coming month, IsraAID will send a team of Italian speaking therapists to meet with the affected community. The therapists will do a new needs assessment to understand the current needs - one year after the earthquake. When understanding and identifying the vulnerable populations, the therapists will work to assist with the ongoing stress and prepare the community and local service provioders for potential future disasters.

In addition, the therapists will hold training sessions on psychological first aid to prepare the affected population on how to deal with the arising trauma that are starting to show one year after the earthquake. The training sessions will also deal with self-care and it will provide tools for parents to deal with their children, or other needs identified. The training sessions will be held for local volunteers and professional social workers and therapists. 

IsraAID feels privileged to continue its work in Amatrice, and its surroundings, and we are grateful for your support - our work wouldn't be possible without it!

Grazie!

Houses in Amatrice after the earthquake, Aug 2016
Houses in Amatrice after the earthquake, Aug 2016
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Antonella (left) with IsraAID staff
Antonella (left) with IsraAID staff

On August 24th 2016 a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy causing major damages and destruction of thousands of homes, buildings and infrastructures. 296 people were killed in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto and 4,454 people were displaced in the regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo.

IsraAID arrived less than 36 hours after the earthquake to provide emergency relief and psychosocial support to help mitigate the long- term effects of the traumatic events. IsraAID’s support was especially vital to the community this past winter when temperatures plummeted to -18 degrees Celsius. The team distributed packages containing winter items (blankets, jackets, heaters, etc.) to the families still living in the campers (mobile homes). Recently, IsraAID returned to Amatrice to provide training to community leaders and deliver household items to the families.

"Wow, I can’t believe is you. We never thought would have the chance to see you back here. ….Thank you for all, at this time all this items are very important in our camps”. Maurizio 57, Amatrice

The support and presence of IsraAID was greatly felt by the members of the community. The families felt familiar with the team and were grateful for the reunion, which reemphasized the trust the people feel toward IsraAID.

IsraAID built strong alliances with the local organizations who were building homes for the 2,200 displaced people. This joint program reaches over 2,250 indirect beneficiaries, including the people supported by disaster relief and recovery activities. Strengthening the systems already in place will help Amatrice and the surrounding areas rebuild their community and resilience.

Antonella, pictured above, lost her family and her house in the earthquake. She and her husband, accompanied by IsraAID, have begun rebuilding their lives in their new house. When receiving the recent distribution, Antonella was excited to meet with the team and express her gratitude for their continuous support.

Finally safe, the affected population now faces new challenges of how to rebuild in their new homes. IsraAID will continue to work hand- in- hand with the local organizations to begin implementing the next phase of the holistic program aimed at psychosocial support. IsraAID is looking forward to working with the families as they pick up the pieces of their lives and begin to heal. 

Your donation continues to make a difference to Antonella and her neighbors. Thank you for supporting the work of IsraAID! 

IsraAID distributing much need items in Amatrice
IsraAID distributing much need items in Amatrice
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Distributing heaters in January's bitter cold
Distributing heaters in January's bitter cold

In January, 2017, as a response to the bitter cold and the snow-covered winter months, IsraAID supported families still living in camps by distributing much needed winter supplies as temperatures plummet to -18 C. The team was welcomed by the Mayor of Amatrice, Mr. Pirozzi, who on behalf of the town expressed his gratitude for the continued assistance.

"I'm very happy to see you again” said Giulianna, a survivor of the earthquake, “it is a gift for us when we, the Amatrice community, need it the most.” 

It was the 24th of August 2016, 76 kilometres (47 miles) southeast from the city of Perugia, when the 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy causing major damages and destruction of thousands of homes, buildings, and infrastructures. 296 people were killed in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto. Approximately 4,454 people were displaced in the regions of Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo.

IsraAID responded to the emergency, arriving less than 36 hours after the earthquake struck, bringing a team of 20 Search and Rescue professionals to pull people from the rubble. IsraAID also brought Italian speaking psychologists to help mitigate the long-term effects of the traumatic events in Amatrice and its surroundings area. IsraAID staff worked side by side with government institutions and partners to ensure a reasonable level of safety for all people. The support structure included coordinating efforts of multiple sectors of the government, bi- and multilaterals, civil society organizations, and the private sector, to accomplish mission objectives to support the national health policies and strategies already in place.

We look strong, but inside we are destroyed” Pietro, 65 Torrita

IsraAID’s Italian speaking psychologists and therapists worked to provide psychological first aid and long term support in Torrita, Amatrice, Mussicchio, Cornillo Nuovo, Colli, Collemoresco, ANSAP and Scai camps. The team worked with all levels of service providers and the affected population including women, youth, children, and the elderly to normalizing stress reactions and ease distress levels. The impact of providing psychological support to survivors was immediate and positive.

Furthermore, 25 police officers and 32 social service providers participated in the psychological first aid training by using tailor-made curricula specific to the context of the earthquake in Italy. The training focused on the definition and symptoms of trauma, resilience, and resources. The training and sessions offered to them were meant to help build their capacity, bolster their personal coping mechanism, and offer them an outlet, given their own stress.

Total beneficiaries 527, and indirect beneficiaries, over 3000.

IsraAID thank you for helping us supporting the population of Amatrice and the surrounding areas when they needed our care the most. IsraAID continues to support populations in need around the world, thanks to donations from people  such as yourself – thank you!

Photographer: Mickey Noam-Alon
Photographer: Mickey Noam-Alon
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Organization Information

IsraAID

Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Website:
Project Leader:
Molly Bernstein
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel

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