Strategic meeting to establish CADENA’s 5-year goals. Participants: Benjamín Laniado, Fernando Mitrani and Issac Levy, CADENA cofounders and board members; Ricardo Aizenman, Roy Hausmann and Yosef Shwedel, CADENA International Council members. “Ever since CADENA was established, we have broken the wall of indifference with regards to humanitarian crisis. Our goal is and will always be to leave no one behind, to make this a world where someone will always reach out in case of a disaster or crisis. CADENA not only helps; it spreads its spirit and forms humanitarian human beings ”. – Benjamín Laniado, Secretary General.
5780 has been a special year… to say the least. There are multiple reasons, but they can be summed up in a five-letter word, followed by a two-digit number. Unfortunately, this small combination has caused thousands of deaths around the world, setting in motion a whole chain of social, economic, geographic and political negative effects that will only become apparent in the next years—perhaps decades.
With this in mind, I would like to take advantage of the coming New Year celebrations to share some insights of what the COVID-19 crises has meant for us. In the Jewish New Year, we celebrate the ontological creation of the conscious human being. It is the perfect moment to reflect on ourselves and exercise thought, our most powerful tool.
As an NGO dedicated to covering humanitarian crises, COVID-19 has been at the forefront of our operations during the past six months. We are used to helping people affected by hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, armed conflict, migrations and refugees. However, the particular nature of this crises has forced us to completely reformulate how we work.
“Making a difference, hand-in-hand”: for over a decade, this has been our motto. In an uncertain context like Latin America and Africa where help sometimes never arrives to beneficiaries, we are committed to physically delivering aid to the most remote regions. This presupposes direct contact with beneficiaries—always taking into account the humanitarian principles of impartiality, neutrality, independence and humanity—; we are always welcome with warm handshakes and firm hugs.
In the context of the pandemic, however, the social contact that lies at the basis of our work has become a risk. By engaging in it, we are exponentiating the thing that we are seeking to solve. This was no obstacle for us. Quite the opposite. Thanks to a strategic mobilization of resources and tactic changes in how we carry out our missions, we have managed to help more people, in one year, than in the past 15 years.
This year, CADENA has helped more than one and a half million COVID-19 vulnerable people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. We established a digital platform that provides psychosocial and medical help to thousands in the region. We delivered pantries to those who lost their jobs and those who are going through a tough economic time. We donated fully equipped protection kits to health personnel working at the frontlines of the crises. We accompanied elders who have no one to care for them in quarantine. And we continue our search for new humanitarian volunteers who can help us in our fight.
Our forefathers have lived and survived these types of phenomenon before. In CADENA we believe in Homo Sapiens’ capacity to adapt. We have seen cases of cities with high density, like Hong Kong, or countries like Taiwan—both of them close to the epicenter—which have managed to keep the epidemic under control thanks to their previous experience with SARS, in 2002. We can and we should learn from their examples.
When facing this crisis, the world has two options: a turn back towards nationalism and closed borders, or the strengthening of international solidarity bonds. As an international humanitarian agency, we are placing our bets in the second solution. We strongly believe in human solidarity, beyond linguistic, cultural or ethnic borders.
We believe that what distinguishes our species is the capacity to establish bonds beyond the family circle. Cooperation is a stronger survival instinct than force or power. The only way in which we can adapt is by establishing bonds. Only by creating cooperating ecosystems are we able to build resilience.
We hope that next year we find our solidarity bonds further strengthen, through these crises.
Shana Tova Umetuká
Benjamin LaniadoGeneral Secretary of CADENA
The Hebrew equivalent to “Holocaust”, SHOA (שואה), means, quite literally, CATASTROPHE.
The Holocaust was precisely that, a catastrophe extending beyond our imagination, an event that marked humanity as a whole, unmatched in its degrees of sadism and horror. A vulnerable minority was systematically and mercilessly massacred in the name of a supposed ethnic superiority.
In five years, six million Jews died. Many more were forced to flee and ended up in México, Chile, United States, South Africa, Argentina, Guatemala, and many other countries.
Even though the Holocaust took place more than half a century ago, ethnic violence is still present accros the world. We’ve witnessed, time and time again instances of people being massacred because of their ethnicity or their religion. During the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Chinese immigrants were murdered in northern Mexico; in the last decades we’ve witnessed ethnic killings in Rwanda, Kashmir, Yugoslavia, and Sudan; and, currently, a small Muslim minority in Myanmar is under persecution.
Today there are more displaced people than at any point in history.
More than 65.6 millon people have had to flee their homes due to violence and persecution. 22.5 million of them are considered refugees, most of them are underaged. Of those, 10 millon people have been stripped of their nationality, without access to the most basic human rights.
In CADENA we are committed to helping all victims of ethnic violence.
This is why we have carried out missions to help Syrian refugees and to the Kakuma refugee camp, with refugees form South Sudan. Most recently, we have helped the migrants fleeing from persecution in Central America. We will continue to help those in need without distinguishing race, religion or ethnicity.
As an institution based in Jewish valúes, we believe that humanitarian aid should transcend all types of hatred. We are above all, humans, and we have a sacred responsibility to The Other.
CADENA was involved in COP25, the largest summit on action and climate change. In which we worked on the basis of knowledge and understanding of the different challenges we face today as a society. Events like these are a great opportunity to continue to develop more and better projects that benefit the sustainable development of communities around the world.
“Our commitment as CADENA is to explore the challenges and how they produce effects in communities; so that on that basis we can generate real and necessary tools based on direct experience and knowledge, and not on imaginaries or ideals of well-being and stability.” – Daniela Goren – Director of Humanitarian Operations of CADENA Chile.
CADENA is committed to helping those who flee their homes due to hatred, poverty, and violence. This is why we’ve carried out missions with Syrian and Sudanese refugees as well as Honduran, Venezuelan and Guatemalan immigrants in the borders of Central America and Venezuela.
We helped people like Karina, a 19-year-old mother who fled her home when she found out that her husband belonged to a Honduran gang. Or Carlos, a 58-year-old Guatemalan who made the trip to the United States only to settle in Tijuana, where he lives with his family.
As a Jewish organization, we feel intimately connected to the destinies of those forced into exile. According to the UN: “In 2019, the number of migrants reached 272 million, 51 million more than in 2010. International migrants are 3.5 of the world’s population, a figure that is growing, compared to 2.8 in 2000 and 2.3 in 1980. “
In this constantly shifting world, we must remember that migrants are not alone. CADENA, and many other organizations, are there to give them a hand.
Mommy Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction, and head of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, visited the community of Miguel Hidalgo, in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The town was hard hit by the 8.2-magnitude earthquake of September 7, 2017. Since then, CADENA has adopted the community and implemented a comprehensive Response, Relief, Reconstruction and Sustainable Development project.
“An example that extends beyond Mexico…”
On her tour through the community, Mami Mizutori emphasized that the case is “an exemplary model not only for Mexico, but globally; we’re going to talk…about what’s going on here, so the strategy can be replicated in other regions.”
CADENA not only helped restore a sense of normalcy among devastated populations, Benjamin Laniado, Secretary-General of CADENA stated, but also established a long-term commitment with the most affected communities.
“Miguel Hidalgo is now more prepared to respond to any natural disasters…”
“If a new earthquake were to happen again today, we are sure that the community of Miguel Hidalgo would not only experience less damage thanks to the more resistant and sustainable construction materials: the community is also more knowledgeable about natural disasters,” Laniado stated.
Among those present at the important event, Raul Salazar, Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean; Saskia Carusi, the External Relations Officer of the Regional Office for the Americas and the Caribbean of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR); hte promoter in Mexico of the Global Campaign “Developing Resilient Cities” International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR); Angélica López Ortega, the UNICEF representative in Chiapas; and Luis Manuel García Moreno, The Secretary of Civil Protection of Chiapas.