In awe and inspired. That is how Israeli field coordinator Tamar Loster of the Israel Relief Coalition (IRC) felt working directly with the people of Leyte, in partnership with Operation Blessing Philippines (OB), to provide psychosocial support workshops, community-based programs and other needs of the victims of super typhoon Yolanda. IRC is the coalition of Israeli non-governmental organizations — from relief and humanitarian aid to development organizations – especially created to synergize all efforts of Israel’s civil society toward helping Yolanda survivors.
“The coping mechanism of the people in Leyte is so amazing. When people share their stories with me, they always have a smile on their face even as we know the horror they’ve been through with Yolanda.” Tamar says that the resilience of the Filipinos is known worldwide but was made more evident among the people of Leyte. “There is obviously a lot of pain but the people here have that impressive ability to try and move forward and focus on what should be done,” Tamar adds.
Israel is known for its expertise in psychosocial training and psychological first aid and IRC’s partnership with Operation Blessing towards this area has created significant results among Yolanda survivors. “Operation Blessing does the assessment on where the medical should be done and IRC supports it, while also conducting psychosocial assesment and trainings. We also train and involve teachers, barangay heads and church leaders so we could reach more people faster,” Tamar said.
Tamar sees Leytenos coming to terms with what they have lost, and able to rebuild, flourish and grow again.“My prayer for the people of Leyte is for them to continue rebuilding their lives in the same inspiring manner that I have seen so far.”