Eliran Douenias

In 2015, I landed in Nepal only days after the earthquake and found myself in the middle of a disaster. It was my first experience in such a situation. The air was yellow from the unsettled dust, rubble, and destruction. Survivors walked hunched over – whether they were carrying something on their backs or not. They were tired, frustrated, and traumatized. I saw their pain, and I saw their hope. I also saw the opportunity for recovery.

Hi. My name is Eliran. I was born and raised in Israel. Since completing my army service as an officer, I have dedicated most of my life to social entrepreneurship and assisting the less fortunate both in Israel and across the globe.

In 2015, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to serve as JDC’s Ralph I. Goldman Fellow. As part of that fellowship, I was deployed to the earthquake stricken country of Nepal. My job was to assess and respond to emergency needs and to build a long-term recovery strategy. A year later, I turned my fellowship experience into a career, which led me to serve populations in need around the world. As part of this, I helped establish an evergreen development fund that uses Israeli technology and innovation to improve the lives of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia, called TOV – Tikkun Olam Ventures. Today, I oversee JDC’s non-sectarian activities around the globe as the Director of Operations and Planning.

What draws you to humanitarian aid work?

I am drawn to empowering the less fortunate to transform their lives by helping them gain access to education, medicine, jobs, and even the ability to choose. Each time I visit Ethiopia or any of the other countries where we work, I am moved by the progress that seemed out of reach not too long ago. 

Tell us about your most challenging humanitarian aid work. 

Cyclone Idai hit Mozambique a few weeks before my wedding, and I vividly recall texting my fiancée that we may need to adjust some of our plans. A constant challenge that faces us as professionals in this field is finding a delicate balance between saving lives and taking care of our own lives. Ultimately, I got on the plane and did what was needed. I am also happy to report that I made it to our wedding, and that I am still happily married.


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