IsraAID honored for Puerto Rico disaster relief

Israel was the only country outside the US that took part in a conference of NY Latino political leadership on the crisis in Puerto Rico.

November 11, 2018 16:01
2 minute read.
Consul to NY Dani Dayan visits an IsraAID site earlier this year

Consul to NY Dani Dayan visits an IsraAID site earlier this year. (photo credit: ISRAEL CONSULATE IN NEW YORK)


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Israel was the only foreign country honored for its work on disaster relief in Puerto Rico, at a conference in San Juan this weekend.

The event was organized by Somos, a Latino social activism organization that works with the New York State Assembly and Senate’s Puerto Rican and Hispanic Task Force. Israel was the only foreign country to take part in the conference meant to focus on the ongoing crisis on the island.

The Israeli Consulate in NY took attendees to see NGO IsraAID’s ongoing mission to provide safe drinking water through a new electricity-free filtration system – which could continue working if there is another hurricane – and clean water education program in Barrio Real in Patillas. Conference attendees also distributed IsraAID emergency kits in classrooms at the Nuestra Escuela School in Caguas as part of the organization’s disaster reduction plan.

A week after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, wiping out 95% of the island’s electricity and 80% of its agriculture, a Spanish-speaking IsraAID medical and psychosocial team, as well as water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) experts arrived on the island; its WASH and mental health programs continue more than a year later.

Israeli Consul to New York Dani Dayan spoke to The Jerusalem Post from San Juan, saying that Puerto Rico “still hasn’t fully recovered... We want to help the Puerto Rican community and recovery of the island. That’s the reason I’m here.”

Dayan said that Israel’s participation in the Somos conference was “highly appreciated” and the mention of IsraAID at the conference’s closing gala was met with “rousing applause.”

“The response was amazing,” he recounted.

Somos, an organization led mostly by members of the Puerto Rican Diaspora in NY, holds two conferences a year – one in Albany, NY, and one in Puerto Rico – and Dayan has made a point to attend both.

“When I came to NY... one of the decisions we made when we analyzed the population is to give priority to the Latino community over others in the area; it’s the fastest-growing... If we don’t start now, it’ll be too late,” Dayan, a native Spanish-speaker, explained. “Our participation in Somos is one of the displays of that effort.”

Dayan says he has found the Latino community to have “extremely warm relations” with Israel, and many of its political leaders have visited Israel.

“The inroads we made and their support for Israel is really impressive... It is a result of a lot of work we did and continued to do,” he added.

Israeli-born New York State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Queens) took part in the mission, and told the Post that “IsraAID’s work is an example of the collective undertaking needed to rebuild an island facing a long and challenging road to recovery.

“As a part of the NY delegation participating in this humanitarian mission, I’m eager to learn how we can collaborate, and ultimately roll up my sleeves and get to work,” Rozic added.

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