On this Jewish holiday when we choose to dwell in temporary shelters, read how a few of OLAM’s coalition partners are envisioning their roles – and yours – in changing the world through fighting homelessness and displacement by providing shelter and relief in the year ahead.
“In NATAN we see the eight days of Sukkot as a reminder of our universal duty to try and ease the distress of people throughout the world who have no permanent roof or shelter, either because of destruction by natural disaster or because of forced exile in order to save their lives and the lives of their families.
Our work helping the people in Haiti, the Philippines or Nepal to reconstruct their daily lives despite the loss of loved ones or the destruction of their homes, as well as with refugees in Georgia or in the Balkans fleeing armed conflict, reminds us that Sukkot is about a very long and uncertain journey and the transition to a better future.
In Sri Lanka and the Philippines, we have built community buildings providing the local population with a safe haven for gathering. In all operations, we try to cure the wounds and to ease the stress. NATAN’s mission is to reach communities at risk by offering them the tools and skills to better cope with potential disasters. Our awareness, preparedness and resilience are where the Israeli experience and the dedication of our professionals can and will play an important role in the coming years.”
“The experience of insecurity is central to the holiday of sukkot. At AJWS we support local activists who are fighting for greater security. Sometimes, as with the Sengedag Service Society mentioned below, that means helping to rebuild physical (and spiritual) shelters damaged in natural disasters. Other times, the quest for security focuses around supporting indigenous populations to maintain control over the land and water that they depend on to survive, ensuring that ethnic minorities are treated fairly, and making sure women and LBGT people can live lives free of violence and fear.
Shelter is critical to providing safety and security in the aftermath of a disaster, as well as to ease the psychosocial trauma experienced by displaced populations. In Nepal, our partners at Sengedag Service Society (SSS), are working with a group of Tibetan refugee nuns and monks, to rebuild their homes and spiritual centers, which were wiped out by the earthquake. Already extremely marginalized prior to the earthquake, the destruction of their homes forced the nuns and monks into a camp in Kathmandu, where they lived in extremely cramped quarters, which has increased the spread of illness.
Jews pray daily that one day the messianic ‘sukkah of peace’ will be spread over the entire world. Until that day comes, we are motivated by our own experience of insecurity to help others find the security they need to lead lives of freedom and dignity.”