Israel’s aid agency’s swift humanitarian response to Nepal’s earthquake saves many lives
By Vish Viswanathan
In what proved to be an informative and enlightening evening, a talk on ‘MDA Israel’s response to the Nepal earthquake’ on July 13 at the Chifley Tower was very well received by attendees. Roland Nagel, President of MDM in Australia (NSW Division) and Jeremy Spinak, President, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies hosted the talk presented by Ravit Martinez and Ido Golan Gutin.
We are all familiar with the details of the earthquakes in Nepal on April 25 and May 12. Both incidents claimed over 8000 lives and left more than 18,000 people injured, with millions still displaced, while youth and children are left vulnerable.
Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s national rescue organisation and humanitarian member of the Red Cross movement was the first international medical mission to arrive in Nepal. A delegation of doctors and paramedics, in coordination with the International Committee of the Red Cross, set out in a special plane equipped with medicine, medical supplies and baby food.
Ravit and Ido presented these details of the swift response, supported by photos of the relief work carried out by MDA, and the sight of many children who were orphaned and injured was heartrending. They recounted the efforts of young volunteers in saving the lives of many, including babies and young children. The Israeli field hospital established in Kathmandu was the first and largest of its kind erected in Nepal. By the time they returned, Israeli medical personnel had treated 1,600 patients, operated 85 surgeries, and delivered 8 babies. The mission consisted of 260 search and rescue and medical personnel and 95 tons of humanitarian and medical supplies. Israeli mental health officers continue to hold seminars for locals, helping the population in their transition following the disaster. Ravit was a volunteer on this mission and experienced the aftermath of the calamity first hand. Ido works in the International Relations department of MDA at its HQ in Tel Aviv and is the manager of the Australian and British desks.
According to CNN, Israel’s team in Nepal was the largest of any international aid mission – over 260 doctors and rescue personnel, not counting several private aid groups. One of the doctors who joined the Israeli humanitarian mission was Dr Shree Krishna Kashichwa, born in Nepal, who had spent the last five years in Israel on advanced training. Many of his relatives lost houses in the earthquake. “Israel is doing a great thing, and on behalf of the Nepalese people, I want to say thank you,” he said.
MDA is Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service and since June 2006, has been officially recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as the national aid society of the state of Israel under the Geneva Conventions, and a member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The name ‘Magen David Adom’ means ‘Red Star of David’, and the organisation has over 10,000 people globally volunteering over one million man hours per year. Nearly 50% of them are youth volunteers.
MDA Israel has made a highly commendable effort in providing humanitarian aid to the people and specially children, in Nepal. They are to be lauded for their quick response and timely support.