An Israeli humanitarian relief group is holding seminars for Japanese mothers, kindergarten teachers and caregivers in areas affected by the March disaster to enable them to better look after children traumatized by the earthquake and tsunami.
After arriving in Japan in April, several members of the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, or IsraAID, tried to offer their know-how on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) therapy to local authorities in the areas hardest hit by the disaster.
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To their dismay, they met with a chilly reception and only the Miyagi Prefecture town of Watari accepted their help, even though Israel is known for its expertise on post-traumatic stress disorder therapy because the country has been at the heart of numerous violent conflicts.
After they began working in Japan, however, their reputation for achievement spread by word of mouth and more communities in quake-hit northeastern Japan began asking for their assistance.
“At first, we had reservations because we know so little about Israeli people,” said Chikako Ishigaki, a welfare official of Iwanuma, another Miyagi municipality. “After hearing about their fine work in Watari, we decided to seek their help.”
Now the Israeli caregivers are working in seven municipalities in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.
In Iwanuma, for example, Nira Mizrahi, 67, from IsraAID instructed local women earlier this month in art therapy. Most of the participants in the therapy session were mothers with young children.