Canadian Jews raise over $100,000 for Philippines

IDF doctor treats patient in field hospital established by the IDF humanitarian aid delegation to the Philippines at Bogo City [Israel Sun photo]

Since Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines on Nov. 8, the Jewish community has stepped up to help out the devastated country.

UJA Federation of Greater Toronto reports that as of Nov. 15, it has raised more than $85,000 since establishing the UJA Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund, with 100 per cent of the money going to support the efforts of IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, UJA’s partner agency.

Steven Shulman, UJA Federation’s campaign director, said that in the past, federation has qualified for a program whereby the government matches funds raised for emergency aid, and he expects it will qualify again.

On Nov. 11, a seven-person IsraAID team of Israeli professionals including medical, trauma and relief specialists landed in the Philippines and travelled to Tacloban, a coastal city of 220,000 that was almost destroyed by the typhoon.

Shulman said a second IsraAID team, comprising 15 to 20 medical and trauma personnel, was set to join their colleagues and travel north where a hospital is set up.

“We’re looking to send a third team. IsraAID works with local government officials and the United Nations to provide emergency services to those affected. [Our] community has a great reason to be proud. It tells you something about Jewish values,” he said.

Shachar Zahavi, founding director of IsraAID, said in a statement that “people are rioting due to the lack of food, clean water and access to health facilities and accommodation. Without health facilities, our first goal is health intervention. After the immediate medical issues are addressed, the next concerns are issues like the influx of people who have become homeless.”

Robin Segall, director of programs and marketing for Ve’ahavta – The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee, said the agency has raised about $15,000 for its Philippines fund. “Ve’ahavta will be directing funds raised through the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief [JCDR], and its response will focus on immediate as well as mid-term needs of the local population.

“As an executive member of the JCDR, Ve’ahavta is able to leverage the funds we raise by pooling our resources with those raised by up to 44 other coalition members across the United States and United Kingdom for maximum collective impact. Jewish organizations work in unison to allocate desperately needed financial resources to trusted, reputable partners engaging in immediate first response on the ground,” she said.

In times of crisis, she said, “there is a need for short-term aid delivery as well as a need to manage the long-term painful aftermath. Ve’ahavta has worked closely with the Israel Trauma Coalition  [ITC] on previous crises and is in close communication with ITC to determine how we might support their response to Typhoon Haiyan.”

Terri Boldman, director of marketing and communications for Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA (JFC-UIA), said that the organization is accepting donations on behalf of the federations in London and Windsor and individual donations from non-federated regional communities.  She said that as of Nov. 15 Montreal, has raised $38,000, and Edmonton, Vancouver, Hamilton and JFC-UIA have raised about $60,500.

Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Centre said that it’s been called on to send a team of medical personnel to join IDF medical and rescue response team that was dispatched to the Philippines. The selected members all have extensive training in rescue-and-recovery missions within the IDF Medical Corp and were extensively briefed prior to departure for what they can expect upon arrival in the disaster zone.

David Smith, president of Canadian Shaare Zedek Hospital Foundation, said in the release that the money it raises in Canada is being sent to support Shaare Zedek’s IDF clinic and to help train and prepare the medical personnel.

In a more local response, at a Toronto bagel restaurant, Bagel World on Wilson Avenue, a group of employees, many of whom are Filipinos, have decided to donate all their tips to the relief fund. Bagel World’s owners were touched by the gesture and agreed to match all the proceeds.

Related: Israel brings its experience in disaster relief