Here is a concise summary of NATAN’s achievements this past year.
There were, unfortunately, no fewer natural disasters in 2018 around the world than in the previous years but the media fatigue considerably reduced awareness in the West. The tragedy of the Syrian population continued to be a central topic. When the School for Refugees in Lesbos (Greece), created by NATAN, reached maturity, we transferred project responsibility to our partners in Hashomer Hatzair and focused on another aspect of the Syrian war casualties: medical aid to the civilians in Syria. Participating in the Israeli program, “Operation Good Neighbor”, with doctors and dentists crossing the Israeli border, our volunteers helped in Camp Ichay in Syria. We also created and operated a TeleMedicine program, connecting Syrian patients with doctors in Israel. The monsoon floods in Kerala, India called us to help in rehabilitation in the rural zones. NATAN is partnering with the leading organizations representing Israeli Jews of Indian origin, expressing their solidarity with their country of origin. We are currently awaiting the formal approval of our project proposal by the Indian central government which will enable us to implement a reconstruction project in Kannadi village in Kutannad. Dental Care is a new initiative, responding to our beneficiaries’ call. We have completed the acquisition of the top of the line mobile equipment, able to deploy the best dental technology anywhere there is a need. The first project will be in the rural zones in Ethiopia. Simultaneously we are opening a dental clinic for the neediest in Haifa, in partnership with the Technion. Building the future, NATAN is creating a Social Impact Mentoring program, helping entrepreneurs to adapt and implement their initiatives to emergency zones and developing countries.
2019 will be challenging but with your help NATAN will continue to fulfill its mission, doing good on behalf of Israel and the Jewish People.
OPERATION GOOD NEIGHBOR - HELPING SYRIAN CIVILIANS
Since November 2015 NATAN has offered humanitarian aid to many thousands of refugees in Serbia and Greece. This past year, we were able to help Syrian civilians – internal displace persons inside Syria itself on the Golan Heights. We were asked to join the American organization, Friendships, at their medical camp in Camp Ichay on the Golan Heights, providing medical and dental care to Syrian civilians. NATAN recruited and trained international doctors and dentists who served as volunteers at the medical camp. This operation was part of the IDF’s Operation Good Neighbor. At a ceremony marking the close of the operation, NATAN received a commendation for its contribution to this program. Our creation of a Telemedicine service allowed Syrian patients to consult online with Israeli MDs and specialists. The program was forced to end when the IDF closed the medical camp for security reasons as Bashar Assad’s forces took control of the area. NATAN’s Telemedicine program was also featured in an international conference on rural medicine held recently.
KERALA INDIA MONSOON FLOOD RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT
In August 2018 the region of Kerala, in the South of India suffered the worst flooding in over a century. The opening of dams during heavy monsoon rains caused the deaths of more than 500 people, destroyed local agriculture, infrastructure and homes. One community has come together and decided to take action and provide humanitarian aid: the Israelis of Indian origin. Having arrived in Israel in the early 1950s, the community currently numbers 80,000 people, out of a total of 120,000 Jews of Indian origin around the world, including 4,500 in India. It is apparently the first time that an Israeli minority has actively mobilized and committed its resources to philanthropic action on behalf of its country of origin. NATAN was designated to bring its expertise in the field by participating in the rehabilitation of a village in Kerala. We were the sole Israeli aid organization invited by the Government of Kerala to assist in assessing the needs. We are working in partnership with a local non-profit organization, Aarogya Charitable Foundation Trust. Not yet having found a financial partner for this program, this operation has been conducted, until now, out of NATAN’s own reserve funds.
TSUNAMI IN INDONESIA
A massive earthquake and tsunami struck Sulawesi Island in Indonesia killing at least 1,948 people this year. More than 70,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by the magnitude 7.5 quake that struck on September 28, 2018. Over 2,500 people were injured and almost 75,000 displaced. Invited by a medical first aid organization to join their mission and to take the logistics leadership, a NATAN professional and experienced volunteer together with two medical staff flew immediately to Jakarta with all the necessary equipment. The NATAN team was accompanied by a team from our partner organization, Cadena, who brought water filtering devices to install. The Indonesian authorities decided, later, to thoroughly forbid any foreign intervention. The team reached the Palu region, the most devastated zone and could directly witness the human tragedy. Despite the urgent needs and the lack of any adequate aid or response on site, our team had to drive back to Jakarta without delivering the help. Like the other and much bigger International Organizations, we had to stand by helplessly facing a population in dire need, who fell victim to political considerations.
MOBILE DENTAL CLINICS
Many refugees and needy populations suffer from dental pain, putting this need as their most pressing unmet priority. This is an area generally ignored by many of the world’s aid organizations. NATAN's mobile clinics will serve the most deprived communities in Israel and abroad, with the first program planned to begin in Ethiopia in early 2019. In Ethiopia we signed an agreement with the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia for a multiannual dental and oral health program.
SOCIAL IMPACT DEVELOPMENT
Israel’s reputation as the start-up nation is well known. We believe that it is our duty as an international humanitarian organization to build the bridge between technological initiatives and those who need them wherever they are, especially in places remote from the business eye. NATAN’s Social Impact Development volunteers increase the awareness of young entrepreneurs to extend their projects to developing countries or to disaster relief and seek professional advice in implementing their initiatives. In October, NATAN, together with Pears Program for Global Innovation organized and hosted the first Meet-Up of humanitarian professionals with entrepreneurs. The event, hosted at Urban Place in Tel Aviv brought together more than 60 participants, resulting in wide interest and fruitful meetings among potential partners.
ACCREDITATION BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION OF THE U.N.
Aiming to implement the highest standards in Medical Humanitarian Aid, NATAN is in the middle of the WHO accreditation process. NATAN is one of only two Israeli organizations to have been accepted for this very complex and challenging process, resulting in the internationally recognized Emergency Medical Team 1-Mobile clinic’s accreditation. This process demands an important investment in equipment and staff training. We are seeking a financial partner for this effort. There is no doubt that being recognized as implementing the highest international standards will promote NATAN to the standing of a world leading humanitarian organization.