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October 9, 2015 | 26th Tishrei 5776
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Asian Tsunami Relief Fund

Press Release  

Nearly 8,000 individuals from Reform congregations have made donations totaling more than $1,350,000 to the Union for Reform Judaism's Asian Tsunami Relief Fund, while countless others gave directly to one of the organizations the Union suggested when it opened the fund in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami. Canadians donated almost $50,000 (Canadian) within a few weeks of the crisis, which was matched by the Canadian government, providing a total of $100,000 (Canadian) to Care Canada and Oxfam Canada. In addition, Women of Reform Judaism has raised $10,000 to date for tsunami relief.

One year after the disaster, the Union has completed its grant-making for this fund, and is no longer accepting contributions for Asian Tsunami Relief. We recommend future donations be made to American Jewish World Service.

Funds have been distributed as follows (see below for details about the grant projects and organizations):

In the Trincomalee Region of Sri Lanka

International Medical Corps – Public Health Service Rebuilding $80,100
International Medical Corps – Mental Health Services – $110,550
Siyath (through AJWS) – $120,750
Aceh Judicial Monitoring Institute (through AJWS) – $175,690
ManithaNeyam Trust - $210,000
Voluntary Organization for Vulnerable Community Development (VOVCOD) - $105,000
Trincomalee Town & Gravet Areas Fishermen's Co-Operative Union - $116,025
Association of War Affected Women - $51,450
International Medical Corps - $49,000


General Tsunami Relief Allocations 

Jewish Coalition for Asian Tsunami Relief - $50,000
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - $40,000
Church World Service (CWS)
- $40,000
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
- $25,000
International Rescue Committee (IRC) - $25,000
Direct Relief International (DRI ) - $25,000
Mercy Corps - $25,000
International Medical Corps (IMC)
- $25,000


You can make a difference in the lives of those who now face the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. Please donate to one of the following relief agencies, or click here to donate to the Union for Reform Judaism’s Asian Tsunami Relief Fund* or send checks payable to the Union for Reform Judaism (write “Asian Earthquake Relief Fund ” in the memo section of your check) to:

Union for Reform Judaism
Attn: Asian Earthquake Disaster Relief Fund
633 Third Ave. 7th Floor
New York, NY 10017

URJ Canadian Council for
Reform Judaism
3845 Bathurst Street, Suite 301
Toronto, Ontario M3H 3N2

JDC -- Jewish Coalition for Asia Tsunami Relief:
American Jewish World Service:
Direct Relief International:
International Rescue Committee:


Long-Term Relief

Once the immediate humanitarian needs of food, water and sanitation are met, there will be substantial long-term needs in each of the affected communities. In consultation with relief organizations and our partners within the Jewish community, we have decided to take a long-term approach in our relief efforts by focusing our attention on the Trincomalee region of Sri Lanka. Working with the American Jewish World Service, the Joint Distribution Committee and other agencies, we will partner with NGO’s and the local community to identify and address multiple needs in that region, including rebuilding infrastructure, training, education and psycho-social needs, and restoring families to economic self-sufficiency. Our hope is to build relationships in the process, and to create a lasting partnership with a community in need. We plan to devote a significant portion of our remaining funds to this long-term initiative.

Trincomalee Allocations

International Medical Corps – Public Health Service Rebuilding $80,100
Well-functioning diagnostic, surveillance and treatment systems are essential in responding rapidly and effectively to any threat of disease outbreak.  In the Kalmunai district of Eastern Province, the disease surveillance system was devastated by the tsunami and needs considerable strengthening to return to its pre-disaster status. The intent of the project is to train 30 primary care and out-patient department physicians; construct and equip two health facilities to improve medical practitioners’ abilities to diagnose, treat, and report communicable diseases; and to provide training, computer equipment and software to 10 health information staff in Kalmunai to ensure accurate and timely reporting of communicable disease data in order to prevent epidemics. 

International Medical Corps – Mental Health Services – $110,550
IMC post-disaster reconstruction programs are based on a community model that recognizes that self-recovery is the norm for the majority of people. A smaller number of people will suffer serious psychiatric problems that require specialized, evidence-based assistance, which should be integrated into community-based services that can provide culturally appropriate, non-stigmatizing support. IMC will implement community-based activities that teach preventive care, resilience and coping; provide training to Community Health Worker and PHC staff on strategies for assisting vulnerable groups and those with mental disorders; and train community-based clinical specialists through a combination of on-the-job and theoretical curricula. 

Siyath (through AJWS) – $120,750
Income Generation for Tsunami Affected Women in Southwestern Sri Lanka – Siyath is a large and well established organization in Southwest Sri Lanka that supports women weavers who make yarn out of coconut shell, a large industry in the area.  It rebuilt three offices after they were destroyed in the Tsunami – now their headquarters has burned to the ground.  This project would rebuild these offices so that the organization can continue to support its more than 2000 members.  

Aceh Judicial Monitoring Institute (through AJWS) – $175,690
Rebuilding Housing in Banda Aceh, Indonesia – The Aceh province was the area most affected by the tsunami last December.  Tens of thousands were killed, and hundreds of thousands are still displaced. Although this projects is outside the Trincomalee funding region, it meets the need of hundreds of people still living in temporary tents. Krueng Cut Village is just a few miles east of Banda Aceh.  Of a village that consisted of 750 families before the tsunami, now just 160 remain.  Nearly all public service infrastructure was destroyed and all housing was razed. The project would build permanent housing for 48 of these families displaced by the tsunami who are still living in tents. This represents nearly a third of all families currently living in the community.  The community has decided that once the building begins, that the most vulnerable families (with babies, sick children, or elderly members) will move into the first houses finished.  They have also agreed to provide land from the community for those families who don’t own their own land.  The houses will be built by members of the community who are already experienced builders, thereby stimulating the village’s economy.  Once construction begins, it will take approximately three months to complete the project. This grant is made in cooperation with American Jewish World Service and Stephen Wise Free Synagogue.

ManithaNeyam Trust - up to $210,000
The ManithaNeyam Trust is a well-known local funding agency in northern Sri Lanka. It supports a variety of charitable projects and provides social services to needy people -- notably by rendering educational services and assistance to students and providing vocational training and necessary materials for people to earn a living. This project will help more than 200 families whose villages were destroyed and are living in temporary shelters relocate to permanent housing, and will provide them with the fishing equipment they need to earn a living. Our support will go specifically to purchase fishing boats and nets. The American Jewish World Service serves as the Union's fiduciary party for this project.

Voluntary Organization for Vulnerable Community Development - $105,000
The Voluntary Organization for Vulnerable Community Development is a local NGO that has worked in Trincomalee District for nearly 20 years. It is committed to the ideals of self-reliance, self-government, and the equality of all in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, and multi-communal environment, and works for the empowerment of the most vulnerable section of society. This project will help return people to self-sufficiency by providing them with the tools they need to earn an income. VOVCOD will supply items such as weighing equipment, knives, fishing cones and nets, masonry and carpentry tools, sewing machines, and small shop items to 350 families affected by the tsunami. This will take place in four villages in Trincomalee over the course of three months. The American Jewish World Service serves as the Union's fiduciary party for this project.

Trincomalee Town & Gravet Areas Fishermen's Co-Operative Union - $116,025
The Fishermen's Co-Operative Union is an association of 13 fisherfolk societies and five villages, encompassing a community of nearly 14,000 people, set up to help fishermen from the Trincomalee region improve their families' quality of life. The project will comprehensively address many of the challenges the community is facing in response to the tsunami. Many fishing boats survived the disaster, but their engines have been severely damaged. This project will provide outboard motors to 15 fishermen who lost theirs, and ensure that repairs can be made to at least 40 damaged outboard motors. Fishing nets will be provided to 80 members of the co-ops. Increased support will help more than 500 members bring their fish catch to market; a refrigerated truck will aid them in receiving maximum price for their catch; and a deep-sea boat will serve as both a rescue vessel and a training facility to train more than two hundred fishermen over the next few years. The American Jewish World Service serves as the Union's fiduciary party for this project.

Association of War Affected Women - $51,450
The Association of War Affected Women's (AWAW) mission is to achieve sustainable peace in Sri Lankasocio-economic development with the active participation of the war-affected women. Women were already vulnerable in Sri Lanka, and the tsunami has made life even more difficult for them. Because the majority of women were employed in secondary fishing industries or other industries destroyed by the tsunami, many are struggling to provide for their families. This project will construct a women's center in Trincomalee to help train women and support income generation activities. Additionally, in response to the increased gender-based violence following the disaster, the center will also provide a safe space for women. The American Jewish World Service serves as the Union's fiduciary party for this project. through

International Medical Corps - $49,000
International Medical Corps is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and relief and development programs. This project will provide primary health care for five internally displaced person (IDP) camps in Trincomalee by staffing two mobile clinics. The program will run for three months, until the IDPs can be relocated to more permanent facilities that include full heath care provisions. The IMC itself will provide some $340,000 worth of equipment and supplies, while the Union's grant will cover the cost of personnel for these two mobile clinics.

General Tsunami Relief
Allocations as of May 1, 2005

Jewish Coalition for Asian Tsunami Relief - $50,000
The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) allows a unified Jewish response to natural and man-made crises that occur outside of North America. Staffed by the JDC and comprised of 45 primarily North American Jewish organizations that are national in scope, the Coalition represents the full spectrum of Jewish life. By working together, duplication is avoided, activities are coordinated, and the most efficient use is made of donor dollars. All funds raised by the Coalition are used for non-sectarian activities that assist the neediest victims of disasters, regardless of religious affiliation. The Union for Reform Judaism is a member of the Executive Committee, which determines when to launch a coalitional effort to address an international crisis.

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) - $40,000
Catholic Relief Services continues to provide life-saving water, food, sanitation, temporary shelter, medicine and tools for recovery for the millions affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in South and Southeast Asia. They are also distributing supplies, building temporary shelter, providing trauma counseling and helping children return to school. With their partners in Sri Lanka, where nearly 575,000 are displaced, they we are developing plans for temporary shelter, and providing notebooks and uniforms so children can return to school this week. In India, CRS is helping diocesan partners provide relief packets, medical services and trauma counseling for the thousands who are returning to their devastated villages.

Church World Service (CWS) - $40,000
Church World Service is providing family shelter kits, emergency medical supplies, food, water, cooking utensils, blankets, Health, and School Kits, and other essentials to survivors of the Dec. 26 tsunami--over $1,000,000 in supplies thus far--in affected parts of Indonesia and Sri Lanka. CWS rapid response teams deployed from Indonesia and Pakistan are assisting with distribution and ongoing needs assessment. CWS has also provided rapid response grants to help meet emergency needs in Indonesia and India. In the coming months, CWS will be assisting 50,000 displaced persons in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, with food and non-food essentials, medical and trauma recovery care, and rehabilitation and reconstruction. CWS will be providing support to strengthen food security and livelihood recovery by providing seeds, tools, and fishing equipment. Special emphasis is on the needs of female-headed households; widows; children; the elderly; unemployed families with limited means of support; and people or families who have not yet received aid or support.

American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) - $25,000
American Friends Service Committee’s initial grant covered air transport for 33 medical personnel to Aceh Province in Indonesia, along with equipment and medical supplies to treat 8400 patients and supplies for humanitarian teams such as plastic gloves and boots for work in areas where there is risk of disease and infection. Additional support has been used to set up logistical infrastructure for medical and humanitarian teams including a transit post in Medan. The medical supplies will be used primarily in Banda Aceh, Lhok Seumawe, Nias, and Meulaboh. In Meulaboh, where communication remains limited to satellite phone, a team of 23 volunteers has been assisting in removing bodies.

International Rescue Committee (IRC) -$25,000
The Union has been supporting IRC’s work in Sudan, and they are equally well placed to respond to this crisis, as they have been working for the past few years in Sumatra, Indonesia, the area hardest hit by the tsunami. Their relief efforts are focused on emergency water and sanitation interventions to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. The IRC will also distribute emergency supplies such as plastic sheeting for shelter, blankets, water containers, and other items urgently required by the survivors of the disaster.

Direct Relief International (DRI ) - $25,000
DRI focuses on health by providing essential material resources to locally run health programs in poor areas around the world and during times of disaster. Direct Relief International is a non-profit, non-political, and non-sectarian organization that provides assistance without regard to race, ethnicity, political or religious affiliation, gender, or ability to pay. In response to this disaster, their initial medical shipments have included items such as antibiotics, antiparasitics, analgesics, respiratory agents, antiseptics, and oral rehydration salts, medical supplies such as wound dressings, bandages, sutures, surgical instruments, gloves, and masks, and blankets.

Mercy Corps - $25,000
Mercy Corps is a non-sectarian development organization dedicated to alleviating suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. In response to the tsunami, emergency operations will initially focus on providing shelter and essential items to survivors. Immediate needs include health supplies and services, water purification materials, rebuilding of water and sanitation facilities, food, trauma counseling, clean up and access to basic services.

International Medical Corps (IMC) - $25,000
IMC is a global humanitarian nonprofit organization dedicated to saving lives and relieving suffering through health care training and medical relief programs. In response to the tsunami, IMC is supporting mobile clinics with outreach to affected populations, securing supplies of clean drinking water, distributing food, and hygiene and sanitation kits, providing psychosocial counseling and support to individuals and families, providing generators for temporary shelters and health posts/facilities, and providing body bags to search and rescue teams.


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