IsraAID helps rebuild lives after Yolanda with Cebu Pacific


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IsraAID helps rebuild lives after Yolanda with Cebu Pacific
'The people themselves are the most valuable component of a community, and helping improve their mental health is important in rehabilitation'

This is a press release form the IsraAID:

MANILA, Philippines — One of the strongest typhoons in history, Typhoon Yolanda battered the Visayas region in 2013, affecting about 11 million Filipinos. However, in the face of destruction and desolation, a kind world came to the country’s rescue, uniting people of all ages and nationalities.

Among those who sent immediate assistance was IsraAID, a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It deployed a team of medical professionals, post-trauma experts, and specialists, to help rebuild Ormoc in Leyte, one of the hardest hit areas.

Aside from providing medical aid and constructing homes, schools and health centers, IsraAID also offered mental health and psycho-social services to help survivors cope with post-traumatic stress.

“The people themselves are the most valuable component of a community, and helping improve their mental health is important in rehabilitation. We need to help survivors address their feelings so they can cope with their situation better,” said Adva Vilchinski, IsraAID Country Director for the Philippines.

“To illustrate: you can give children a new classroom, but if they still have fear in their hearts and don’t know how to deal with it, it would be harder for them to learn and concentrate in class.”

Adva shared that their team uses expressive arts as a way for survivors to articulate and understand different emotions and behavior, both theirs and of the people around them.  

Expressive arts

Painting, writing, movement, drama, music, and other forms of expressive arts allow participants to explore their feelings and experiences – consciously and unconsciously.

“Our goal is to empower people to approach the difficulties they feel in an indirect way, especially for those who find it hard to talk about their feelings,” said Adva.  

“In the case of Filipinos, their resilience is truly admirable, but behind this strength is great sadness and difficulty, something that a lot of people often keep to themselves.”  

IsraAID also conducts post-trauma training courses for teachers, health workers, volunteers, and firefighters to increase their capacity to understand the impact of trauma and utilize expressive arts for basic psycho-social intervention. 

“As the first responders in extremely challenging situations, it is important that they are also equipped with the tools needed in order to provide counseling to victims,” Adva added. She added that individuals that have been exposed to a traumatic event, whether natural or man-made, would have emotional scars for the rest of their lives.

“We cannot erase these scars or make survivors forget about what they’ve been through; our goal is to help them understand and cope with their inner turmoil so they can continue to live their lives,” she said.

IsraAID is now exploring more options to expand its projects and provide long-term support in the Philippines, looking to improve agriculture and livelihood, and address issues such as women empowerment and family challenges. 

The team also plans to establish a local chapter so they could monitor progress and tackle future problems more quickly.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and we can use all the help we can get. We’re fortunate to have the support of private companies such as Cebu Pacific,” Adva shared.

“Their assistance was very crucial for us, allowing us to cut the airfare costs of our team. This allowed us to appropriate our funds well and reach more people in need.” 

Apart from IsraAID, Cebu Pacific also supports the projects of GMA Kapuso Foundation, including Unang Hakbang sa Kinabukasan (an educational initiative), Give-A-Gift during Christmas, medical missions, and relief operations in times of natural calamities. It has also partnered with WWF Philippines for the ‘Bright Skies for EveryJuan’ campaign, which supports climate adaptation programs in coastal communities. —

To know more about IsraAID and find out how you can help, visit

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