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Humanitarian Work

Israeli trauma expert Moshe Farchi working with children affected by the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines. Photo: courtesy ISRAEL21c

Israeli trauma expert Moshe Farchi working with children affected by the 2013 typhoon in the Philippines. Photo: courtesy ISRAEL21c

Trauma expert Moshe Farchi’s model stresses the importance of cognitive communication to shift immediate attention from emotions to actions.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

When dealing with someone in psychological trauma, most people instinctively hold, calm and soothe the person.

That may be well-intentioned but it’s not helpful, according to clinical social worker and volunteer medic Moshe Farchi, whose counterintuitive approach recently was adopted as the Israel Health Ministry’s national model for psychological first aid.

Farchi is head of Stress, Trauma & Resilience Studies at Tel-Hai College, and is teaching and using his method in several other countries as well.

While serving as a reserve mental-health officer in the Israel Defense Forces over the past decade, Farchi noticed that the approaches used to help traumatized soldiers in the field simply weren’t effective. Then he began seeing new research showing the scientific reasons for that failure.

He determined to create a new psychological first-aid model based on the latest science and easily implemented by anyone on the scene, not only by mental-health professionals who aren’t as likely to be available immediately.

“I wanted to provide something the whole community could do,” Farchi tells ISRAEL21c.

The program he devised centers on six Cs: cognitive communication, challenge, control, commitment and continuity.

The Six Cs model calls for activating the traumatized person mentally and physically. Activating might mean assigning a task, asking the person to take a walk or giving them decisions to make. Often those in trauma aren’t hurt but have witnessed or otherwise been involved in a frightening situation.

But even injured people in psychological trauma can be given small decisions in order to feel in control, says Farchi. They can be offered a drink of water or asked to direct first-responders where to stand, for instance.

The success of the Six Cs model has been documented. For example, in the summer of 2014, residents of an Israeli town on the Gaza border who were traumatized by rocket fire did not develop post-traumatic stress disorder if they had been treated on the scene according to Farchi’s protocol.

90 seconds

The scientific underpinning of this approach is dozens of studies demonstrating that the brain’s center of emotions, the amygdala, has a seesaw relationship with the brain’s center of logical actions, the prefrontal cortex.

“Activating the amygdala by calming the person emotionally causes the prefrontal cortex to decrease its function, and vice versa,” says Farchi. “We need to reduce the dominance of the amygdala, so actually we should speak cognitively rather than emotionally.”

Emotional communication (“Of course you’re scared”) only reinforces the person’s feeling of helplessness, while cognitive communication shifts attention from emotions to actions.

“Instead of stabilizing the feeling of being scared, we activate the person. We might say, ‘Tell me how many people are around you. Can you count them? How many people are lying down?’ It takes about 90 seconds to shift the person from passiveness to a person who can be helpful to himself and others,” says Farchi, 55.

Since 2013, Farchi’s Six Cs model has been taught to every IDF soldier. In November 2013, Farchi led a delegation from his program at Tel-Hai College to work with victims of the Philippines typhoon in coordination with Israeli humanitarian organizations Brit Olam and Natan.

Moshe Farchi teaching his trauma-care model in the Philippines. Photo: courtesy

Moshe Farchi teaching his trauma-care model in the Philippines. Photo: courtesy

“People going through a traumatic event are very confused and cannot synchronize the event in logical order, and that means the endpoint of the event is also not synchronized,” says Farchi, who volunteers for the Golan Search and Rescue Unit in Israel.

“Subjectively that means the incident doesn’t end and that’s why we have flashbacks. A couple of studies showed that the window of opportunity to resynchronize the events is no more than six hours before the memory is stabilized. That’s why we should assist the person to synchronize the event and emphasize that the major threat is over.”

After a suicide bombing last May in Manchester, Farchi immediately flew over to teach community members his method and returned this summer to train first-response trainers.

He went to Argentina twice to train firefighters, and has taught his method in Haiti and in Germany as a member of Natan’s psychosocial team.

All Israeli first responders are now learning the method, and the Education Ministry will start training high school students in Farchi’s method too. “I hope in the next two or three years the whole population will know how to do this,” he says. Training takes only a couple of hours.

Family therapist and EMT Miriam Ballin, director of the United Hatzalah Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit, says that previously, training for the two-year-old voluntary unit’s 150 mental-health workers and 150 medics was based on World Health Organization (WHO) psychological first-aid protocols.

United Hatzalah psychotrauma team leader Miriam Ballin with Moshe Farchi. Photo: courtesy

United Hatzalah psychotrauma team leader Miriam Ballin with Moshe Farchi. Photo: courtesy

“We are happy to collaborate with Dr. Farchi through the Health Ministry to implement his protocol and we hope it will allow us to give a whole other level of care to the patients we meet in distressing circumstances,” Ballin told ISRAEL21c in early August.

She got an opportunity to use the Six Cs method not long afterward as part of her team’s work with  Houston flood victims in August 2017.

“We always like to advance our skill sets. We meet people on the worst day of their lives and want to do all we can to ease them through that crisis period,” she says.

Israel’s Radical New Approach to Psychological First Aid

Possible application of a system to detect buried landmines using a bacterial sensor. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

Possible application of a system to detect buried landmines using a bacterial sensor. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

Researchers remotely detect buried landmines using fluorescent bacteria encased in polymeric beads illuminated by a laser-based scanning system.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

Israeli researchers have revealed their high-tech answer to the global need for a safe, efficient way of clearing minefields: a remote system using lasers and bacteria to map the location of buried landmines and unexploded ordnance.

The invention is bound to be sought eagerly worldwide. About half a million people around the world are survivors of mine-inflicted injuries, and each year an additional 15,000 to 20,000 more people are injured or killed by these devices. More than 100 million landmines are believed still to be buried in at least 70 countries.

Surprisingly, the methods currently used for detecting landmines are not much different from those used in World War II, and require personnel to risk life and limb by physically entering the minefields.

In the April 11 issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem explain that their innovation is based on the observation that all landmines leak tiny quantities of explosive vapors, which accumulate in the soil above them.

Luminous microbial beads demonstrate the fluorescent signal produced by the bacteria. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

Luminous microbial beads demonstrate the fluorescent signal produced by the bacteria. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

But until now there wasn’t any way to “read” these markers. So the team molecularly engineered live bacteria to emit a fluorescent signal when they come into contact with the vapors on the ground. This signal can be recorded and quantified from a remote location.

The bacteria were encapsulated in small polymeric beads and scattered across the surface of a test field in which real antipersonnel landmines were buried. Using a laser-based scanning system, the test field was remotely scanned and the location of the buried landmines was determined.

"Our field data show that engineered biosensors may be useful in a landmine detection system,” said Prof. Shimshon Belkin, whose group at the university’s Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Sciences was responsible for genetically engineering the bacterial sensors.

“For this to be possible, several challenges need to be overcome, such as enhancing the sensitivity and stability of the sensor bacteria, improving scanning speeds to cover large areas, and making the scanning apparatus more compact so it can be used onboard a light unmanned aircraft or drone,” Belkin said.

The laser-based scanning system used to locate buried landmines. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

The laser-based scanning system used to locate buried landmines. Image courtesy of Hebrew University

The Israeli scientists believe this is the first demonstration of a functional standoff landmine detection system.

Other research groups participating in this study at the Hebrew University were led by Prof. Aharon J. Agranat from the department of applied physics and the Brojde Center for Innovative Engineering and Computer Science (design and construction of the remote scanning system); and Prof. Amos Nussinovitch from the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment (bacteria encapsulation in polymeric beads).

ARTICLE COURTESY OF  www.Israel21c.org

ARTICLE COURTESY OF www.Israel21c.org

Glowing Bacteria Detect Buried Landmines

Good Deeds Day workshop at Kaohsiung City International Youth Volunteer Summer Camp, 2016. Photo courtesy Good Deeds Day

Good Deeds Day was initiated in 2007 by Shari Arison, and launched and organized by Ruach Tova, which is a function of The Ted Arison Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Arison Group.

Participants take part in a variety of activities, from cooking meals for the homeless in Bondi Beach, Australia, to renovating a school building in Abuja, Nigeria.

Good Deeds Day has grown from 7,000 participants in 2007 in Israel to some 1.5 million worldwide in 2016 in seventy-five countries around the world, volunteering and offering help to others. In Israel, participation reached an all-time high in cities, towns, communities, and more than a thousand schools all over the country.

Participants around the world take part in a wide variety of activities, from cooking and serving meals to the homeless in Bondi Beach, Australia, to helping to clean up a cemetery in Washington, D.C., from visiting the children’s ward of a hospital in Santiago, Chile, to helping to renovate a school building in Abuja, Nigeria. The programs are plentiful and productive, and a spirit of benevolence is at the center of it all. Even a smile can be a good deed.

Shari Arison, who was commended by Pope Francis in 2015, has a firm conviction that sending positive energies out—through Good Deeds Day and many other ventures—will better the world. She says: “I think there are so many good people out there.”

Good Deeds Day >

Good Deeds Day: A Time To Help Your Neighbors

Shari Arison, businesswoman and philanthropist, with a photograph of her grandparents, Moshe and Sara Arisohn 

Shari Arison is one of the most successful women in the world. Among the entities under her watch are the Shikun and Binui real-estate and infrastructure business, Israel’s Bank Hapoalim, and Miya, the company that optimizes urban water supplies. Shari also heads The Ted Arison Family Foundation, a major philanthropic force in Israel and elsewhere, and she founded Matan, the Israeli counterpart to United Way. She is respected around the world for her eco-awareness and her companies’ devotion to sustainability.

I might be a teacher for some and a student for others. We’re all teaching and learning constantly.
— Shari Arison

Most unusual in the field of megabusiness, Shari is also a woman of unabashed spirituality, compassion, and conscience. In 2007, she initiated Good Deeds Day in Israel, with a simple premise: “If every person does something to make a difference, and communities, organizations, and corporations give of their time and skill to help others, lives will be improved, and our world will be a better one. Just imagine the impact!”

Shari’s 2009 book Birth: When the Spiritual and the Material Come Together has been translated into many languages and distributed worldwide. Her unique humanitarian values-based approach in business and philanthropy has earned her an honorary doctorate in humane letters from George Mason University. In 2013 Shari published Activate Your Goodness: Transforming the World through Doing Good, in which she outlines basic strategies for daily decency and her own insights into ethics. She has expanded on that notion with her latest volume: The Doing Good Model: Activate Your Goodness in Business, in which she illustrates how everyone benefits when companies value people and the planet alongside profits. 

For Shari, life is an ongoing process of learning. “To me, nobody is bigger or better than anybody else. We all teach and are taught at the same time. I might be a teacher for some and a student for others. We’re all teaching and learning constantly.”

Good Deeds Day >

Matan >

Shari Arison >

Shari Arison: A Business Leader Who Does Well at “Doing Good”

IsraAID emergency responders in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Photo courtesy Nufar Tagar / IsraAID

Helping communities not only to survive their trauma, but to sustain themselves into the future.

IsraAID, founded in 2001, is a humanitarian-aid organization committed to life-saving disaster relief and long-term support for areas hit by catastrophe. They are first on the scene, with a team of professional medics, search and rescue squads, post-trauma experts, and community mobilizers. 

The organization has been on the front lines of nearly every major humanitarian response of the twenty-first century, but their job does not end with immediate disaster relief. Among many other sites of recent relief missions are Nepal after the 2015 earthquakes; Oklahoma after the 2013 tornadoes; and the borders of Greece, Serbia, and Croatia, where they continue to assist with the many incoming refugees.

But IsraAID is also conducting ongoing long-term relief in such locations as Haiti, where they are helping to rebuild the country’s infrastructure after the horrific 2010 earthquake, and Kenya’s Kakuma Camp, which is thronging with more than 180,000 long-term refugees. IsraAID works to help communities not only to survive their trauma, but to sustain themselves into the future.

IsraAID >

 

IsraAID: First on the Scene Helping at Disasters Around the Globe

Zvi Bentwich, President of the NALA Foundation. Photo courtesy and ©  NALA Foundation

Public-health activist Zvi Bentwich has committed his life to combating AIDS in Israel and Africa.Zvi Bentwich was the first physician in Israel to deal extensively with AIDS. In the 1990s, his research demonstrated the link between immune-system deficiencies and intestinal parasites (often euphemistically termed “neglected tropical diseases,” or NTDs). He is a cofounder of the NALA Foundation, whose mission is to overcome poverty, cure NTDs, and fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

It boils down to being optimistic and believing that you can make a change. Like everything, you have to have the vision and to believe that it can happen.
— Zvi Bentwich

 Like many who are involved in humanitarian aid, Professor Bentwich hopes that someday his services will no longer be needed. As he explains, he is helping people to learn how to help themselves:

. . . Schistosomiasis is a water-borne disease; it is a typical example of how you can get infected when you don’t have health education or straightforward information about how not to get infected. It’s very simple: you get infected if you are exposed to where these parasites are. So if you go barefoot into a puddle or a stream, then you can get infected. If you know that you should not go barefoot, you cover your feet. It’s as simple as that.

You can do mass drug administration, but you also have to deal with the causes of the disease, with clean water and sanitation. Health education is also part and parcel of the treatment. If you work only with drugs, you will not get very far. Maybe the population will get better for a few months, but then they will get reinfected if they don’t understand what can be done to prevent getting infected again.

First we developed a survey and figured out what questions needed to be asked. And we recruited good partners in the area. We’ve had great success with a very impressive Ethiopian NGO called Rift Valley Children and Women Development, and with another NGO called OSSA, the Organization for Support Services for AIDS. They understood very quickly that what we were doing was a good thing.

When we did our survey in Mekelle, Ethiopia to our surprise, we found that in a third of the communities that we surveyed, between 80 and 100 percent had this infection. And we saw that the geographic distribution of the infections fitted with parts of Mekelle and the surrounding area that had problems with the water supply. The children were going into streams that were highly infested with these parasites. So the percentages made sense.

So we started intervening. We worked with the local health and education systems, parent-teacher associations, women’s groups, and other groups within the community. In addition, we sent over volunteer delegations, mainly from Ben-Gurion University, who focused on health education and hygiene activities. They worked with local students from Mekelle University and empowered them to initiate advocacy projects so the word would go out to all the schools in the city. Israel’s MASHAV helped too: they invested in the construction of new latrines.

One thing has led to another, and we’ve had dramatic results.  We watched the level of infection go down—at first from 80–90 percent down to 20 percent, and later to less than 5 percent. Changing habits can be a very difficult thing. It boils down to being optimistic and believing that you can make a change. Like everything, you have to have the vision and to believe that it can happen.

NALA Foundation >

Center for Emerging Tropical Diseases and AIDS at Ben-Gurion University >

 

Zvi Bentwich of the NALA Foundation: New Approaches to AIDS and Other Diseases

A child learns about the importance of hand washing in a NALA Foundation workshop in Ethiopia. Photo courtesy Sahar Gamliel / NALA Foundation

The NALA Foundation’s mission is to overcome poverty, cure neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The NALA Foundation has treated many people and dramatically reduced infection rates. It has been awarded the prestigious Grand Challenges Award for innovative ideas in public health (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation).

NALA’s mission is to overcome poverty, cure neglected tropical diseases, and fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

In addition, working together with the United Nations World Food Program, the NALA Foundation has started treating people living with HIV in Ethiopia. Zvi Bentwich, president of the foundation, explains “Our strategy in Ethiopia, right from the beginning, has been to start with a survey to find out what the situation is, the prevalence of infection, and what are the attitudes, practices, and knowledge of the people. You then have to train the trainers—on site, in Ethiopia—because of course we can’t be there forever.”

NALA Foundation >  

Center for Emerging Tropical Diseases and AIDS at Ben-Gurion University >

The NALA Foundation: New Answers for Diseases

Ted Arison, the late husband of The Desert and the Cities Sing author Lin Arison, was a man of extraordinary vision, and that vision remains alive in many forms. The Ted Arison Family Foundation—founded by Ted and his daughter Shari Arison in 1981—is the philanthropic arm of the Arison Group, a business and philanthropic entity that today operates in forty countries around the world.

The Arison Family Foundation is a multigenerational philanthropic venture.

The Ted Arison Family Foundation continues as a multi-generational enterprise; its board includes Shari Arison’s four children: Jason (Chairman), David and Cassie Arison, and Daniel Arison Dorsman.

Jason is the man behind the Artport exhibition space and artists’ residency program, and David works to ensure the efficiency of Israel’s water systems with Miya.

Cassie Arison’s involvement in the Foundation revolves around her passion for creating a healthier and more stable environment for future generations.

And Daniel is the latest family member to join the Foundation’s board, but he surely won’t be the last; the next generations of Arisons are on their way, ensuring that Ted’s vision and spirit will be stewarded by the family long into the future.

Ted Arison Family Foundation > 

The Ted Arison Family Foundation