ISRAAID STAFF MEMBERS assist displaced residents in Lima last Friday..
(photo credit: ISRAAID)
Israeli NGO IsraAID is helping teachers in Peru prepare to reopen their schools after more than two weeks of flooding and mudslides that have devastated areas of the country.
The Peruvian government called for international aid to help hundreds of thousands of people displaced by flash floods and landslides, triggered by a sudden and abnormal warming of Pacific waters off Peru. Some 100 people have died, 700,000 are homeless and contaminated water sources are leading to growing fears of an outbreak of disease. The downpours are expected to continue for another two weeks.
The IsraAID mission set off for Peru on Tuesday, made up of five psychosocial experts and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene experts.
Access to the most basic items such as food, safe water and hygiene kits still remains limited for many, and this is the first priority for the team.
“One of our biggest concerns is water access,” Naama Gorodischer, IsraAID programs director and head of the mission to Peru, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday, speaking over the phone from Lima. In addition to risk of waterborne diseases, the contaminated water can also cause famine and sanitation issues. The IsraAID teams is offering water purification solutions.
The mission is focused on working with the local communities to help them rebuild.
Gorodischer said that while most of the schools in the affected areas would not yet be able to reopen, some were preparing to resume classes on Monday.
Her team – which is moving between Lima, Trujillo and Piura – is providing training to teachers, social workers, service providers and other community leaders to enhance their capacity to respond to the needs of children and members of the community in the aftermath of the traumatic natural disaster.
“Many of them have lost homes, and even if their house didn’t get ruined many of their family members’ did... houses are still underwater, the level of stress is very high, so we also train them to prevent secondary trauma... [through] self-care activities and rebuilding their strength to be leading entities in their communities for rehabilitation,” Gorodischer explained, adding that schools are a core component for rebuilding routine.
“Schools are the center of the community, they bring together children and teachers, along with parents, community leaders and youth. We believe that once the schools reopen, the entire community can revive,” a representative of the Ministry of Education added.
“Our approach is relying on rebuilding the capacity of the community to respond to their own needs, rather than doing direct activities,” Gorodischer continued.
Gloria Sedano Pascual, a resident of Lima, said, “... with Israel’s expertise, we can try to rebuild my community, teaching them about these simple methods to grow their own crops. We can also experiment with building more sustainable shelters than the tents we were given now. We need a lot of help, such as water, food, and clothes supplies, but my hope is to, with the help of IsraAID, organize activities that will help my community in the long term. I believe we can accomplish a lot when we work together.”
IsraAID is also keeping a close eye on the situation in neighboring Colombia, where flooding and mudslides in the city of Mocoa killed more than 250 people and injured hundreds overnight Saturday. “We realize the level of damage there is very high and growing, and there is a chance we might need to deploy there,” Gorodischer said.