In honor of International Woman’s Day we bring you the story of one incredible Israeli woman, who is helping to save thousands of lives and restore dignity to many more worldwide.
In 2008, Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar (formerly Burma) killing over twenty thousand and effecting close to 1.5 million people.
Gal Lousky founder of Israeli Flying Aid, an Israeli humanitarian aid organization, whose mission is bringing vital supplies and aid to people in far flung disaster areas, watched events closely on television.
Initial reports indicated that the military regime of Myanmar were denying international aid to its people, so Gal and her team, consisting of Efraim Laor, one of Israel’s leading aid experts made a decision. In spite of the ban, that they would arrange a mission to bring vital supplies to the people of Myanmar.
Ironically, an Al-Jazeera film crew caught up with Gal’s team in Myanmar and followed them as they headed off deep into the ‘Waddy Delta.’
The footage, begins as the Israelis secretly load aid packages in a truck, after convincing a local driver, who risked imprisonment, to escort them to affected areas. The driver eventually agrees and the journey is an anxious one. At one point passing through a military check-point with everyone in the truck hides in the back.
They arrive at a village where hundreds of starving people surround their truck, clearly the first aid group to arrive. To control the desperate crowd, the Israelis make them sit down and then proceed to hand out the much needed food.
At the end, after some missed out, Gal tells the Al-Jazeera reporter, “I can’t understand why the country is not helping. They starving its people. It’s like genocide.”
Unlike other aid organizations, the IFA targets people in remote locations around the globe that were either intentionally or unintentionally overlooked by most government or international aid organizations, to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to people affected by either natural disaster or regional conflict.
The IFA does not discriminate between disaster victims, based on their race, religion, the hostility of their governments toward Israel, and not even in the face of anti-Semitism. “My grandmother once told me that if you go with goodness, no one will harm you,” she says. “If you plant mangoes, you won’t get lemons.
“I am very proud of my country, and if I can come with its flag, I will,” says Lusky, who explains that the organization’s insignia – a Star of David with wings – was designed to show pride in being Israeli. “But I come first and foremost as a person, second as a representative of my country, and only last as a Jew.
“Times of crises are not times for religion or politics,” she says. “I am led by the belief that everyone – no matter who they are – deserves to get help when they need it most.”
Lusky comes by this belief honestly. She takes her first example from her home, Kibbutz Hukuk, next to the Kinneret. “On a kibbutz, everyone takes care of everyone,” she says.
The lesson really hit home for Lusky when her elder brother was wounded while on a tour of duty in Lebanon in 1992. “When my brother was wounded, I was in the hospital for weeks, praying for him to get better. More than anything, I wanted someone to help my brother in his time of need. It was then that I promised myself I would dedicate my life to helping people in their time of need.”
A year and a half later, her brother returned, healthy, to his post in Lebanon. But Lusky’s life would be forever changed.