Some events remain clear in my memory despite the passing of time. I remember vividly the birth of my first child. (And my second child too, in case she’s reading this). I know exactly where I was during less happy events too: 9/11, for example, as well as Hurricane Mitch in 1998 and the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami which killed 230,000 people. My career has been focused on responding to disasters.
The widespread damage cause by Typhoon Haiyan will become another tragic memory. Despite well-rehearsed emergency procedures and the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people, Typhoon Haiyan turned out to be one of the largest storms ever recorded. Widespread infrastructure damage in the Philippines has hampered the aid operation.
As soon as we saw the scale of the disaster, I knew World Jewish Relief needed to launch an emergency appeal. Supporting vulnerable people 7,000 miles away from the UK is never easy, but our experience working in Haiti and Japan means we are able to find local partners, which we carefully evaluate to ensure they are effective, trustworthy and highly skilled.
To date we have supported almost 76,000 people with food packs, clean drinking water, shelter kits and medical care. Our focus is moving on to providing medium and long-term support for people to re-establish their agricultural livelihoods. We will also be rebuilding family homes and continuing the delivery of food packages.
World Jewish Relief, as the Jewish community’s response to international disasters, has only been able to do all of this thanks to the collective moral support of the communal agencies behind us. We have once again been overwhelmed by the generosity of the Jewish community. Actions really do speak louder than words and the commitment of the community, including the JLC, has helped us to deliver.