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Jewish groups raise money for Nepal quake relief

logo 2014Sheri Shefa, Staff Reporter, Thursday, April 30, 2015

Although they’re halfway across the world, Canadian Jewish organizations are collecting money to help the hundreds of thousands of people suffering in Nepal due to the worst natural disaster the region has seen in 80 years.

Robyn Segall, Ve’ahavta’s communications director, said that according to the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), a partner agency that has sent a team to Nepal to co-ordinate relief efforts on the ground, the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that devastated Nepal on April 25 has resulted in a climbing death toll of 5,000 and left more than 20,000 people injured along with more than 1 million homeless or displaced.

In the days following the quake, Canadian Jewish organizations set up relief funds to collect donations for the victims.

Ve’ahavta set up its Nepal Crisis Fund on April 27 and has since collected $25,000 as of May 4.

Following a conference call between Ve’ahavta staff and JDC volunteers on the ground in Nepal, Segall told The CJN that one of the biggest challenges is getting their hands on the much-needed supplies that are coming in.

“The land is so destroyed that they are having trouble with planes and vehicles getting where they need to go,” Segall said.

“The priority is to take care of that so supplies can come in. The airport is completely backlogged with supplies, and people on the ground can’t actually distribute them to the people that need them, because the roads are in really bad shape.”

She said volunteers are currently focusing their efforts on providing medical care and are working with the staff at the Israel Defence Forces field hospital in Kathmandu, the capital.

“People are still being uncovered from the rubble, so it’s still a state of emergency,” she said.

Jewish Federations of Canada – United Israel Appeal is also collecting donations through its Nepal Relief Fund. Donations can be made through federations in Calgary, Edmonton, Hamilton, London, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Windsor and Winnipeg.

Dan Horowitz, UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s editorial director and senior writer, said Toronto’s Nepal fund was set up April 27 and has collected more than $64,000 from some 500 donors as of May 4.

All of the funds raised by the federations will be allocated to the JDC, which is working to provide humanitarian aid.

“They’re still evaluating the needs, but they’ve already released money for the basic human needs – water, food. Also, sanitation is crucial, because in this situation, diseases occur,” Horowitz said.

Sailendra Adhikar, a 27-year-old Kathmandu native who came to Toronto in 2010 and works as a security guard at the Lipa Green Centre, said he’s grateful to federation for establishing a relief fund to help the survivors.

“Although I am very fortunate that the members of my family who still live in Nepal were unaffected by this tragedy, I know many others who are not as lucky,” he said.

Chabad Lubavitch of Southern Ontario has also set up a Nepal Jewish Relief Fund to assist the Chabad Center in Kathmandu, which has been operating as a refuge for Israeli backpackers and other victims. The Chabad Centre has been providing food and shelter, but their supplies are quickly dwindling.

On April 27, the federal government said it will match donations to Canadian relief funds set up to help the victims in Nepal.

Segall said she would be happy to assist other Jewish groups, such as shuls, that are raising money for the cause.

“We’re also happy to work directly with synagogues on the allocation of the funds they collect. Sometimes they don’t have the networks to understand how to best use their funds, so were more than happy to collaborate and help them distribute their funds in the most effective way possible.”

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