Transcript: GADRA Activates to Türkiye and Syria Webinar

Recorded Thursday, March 9, 2023
10:00 a.m. ET

Video recording with ASL and captions

>> HEATHER DUNCAN: All right. Welcome, everyone, to the webinar, GADRA activates to Türkiye and Syria.

Today's program will be recorded for dissemination afterwards.  We are providing ASL interpretation, as well as captioning.  I have placed the StreamText link into the chat, which you can use, or you can use the captions embedded in Zoom.

During our program, there will be one ASL interpreter on the screen, as well as the person speaking.  All other cameras will be off until the next person speaks.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to put them in the chat, or put them in the Q&A.  You can also raise your hand for the Q&A portion of this meeting.

All right.  And with that, we're ready to get started.

I'm going to turn it over to Marcie Roth.

>> MARCIE ROTH:  Hello, everybody.  I'm Marcie Roth.  I'm the executive director and CEO of the World Institute on Disability, and one of the steering committee members for the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration, GADRA.

We began about three years ago to have discussions with disability community members, humanitarian organizations, funders, allies.  We wanted to understand if our observations about the gaps in humanitarian assistance for disability‑led organizations, if those gaps were as extreme as we thought they were.

We brought folks together for a series of discussions, and in fact discovered that as we had suspected, disability‑led organizations in disasters were not receiving any of the humanitarian assistance that they need in order to support their disaster‑impacted community.

As we discovered those findings, the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, ONG Inclusiva, and the World Institute on Disability came together to launch the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration.

We're here today because once again we are witnessing a huge gap in the humanitarian assistance made available to disability‑led organizations impacted by disaster.

We're going to spend some time this morning taking a look back at the work that we've been doing over the last two and a half years, and then very importantly, we're going to listen to our colleagues from Türkiye  and Syria, who will share with us their circumstances as it stands right now.

Before I move on, though, I will ask for the next slide, please.

And I want to take a moment and acknowledge the loss of our dear friend and colleague, Judy Heumann.  Judy was so supportive of the work that we were doing with GADRA.  In fact Judy was a speaker several times at our GADRA events, and it was always incredibly supportive of Judy to let people know that the work that we were doing matters, and, you know, Judy as one of WID's founders, her ongoing support for GADRA, for WID and for the whole disability community is a tremendous loss.

We join with friends and colleagues across the globe in mourning her loss and celebrating her incredible accomplishments.

I am now going to turn to Priya, who ‑‑ Priya Penner from the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies, who will speak to us about GADRA's history and the actions that we've been taking.


>> PRIYA PENNER:  Hello, everybody.  My name is Priya Penner, as shared by Marcie.  I use she/her pronouns.  I am a disabled Woman of Color, and I am with the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

In year one of GADRA's inception, we were able to connect with the Colombian National Organization of the Blind, the Colombian National Coordinator of Persons with Limited Vision, and the Colombian National Council of Persons with Disabilities.

This was after Hurricane Iota, which was a category five hurricane and hit Colombia in November of 2020, which caused massive flooding and mud slides, as well as damaging homes, technology, disability equipment, paths of travel and more.

Through GADRA matching, we assisted these three organizations with their needs to replace ‑‑ their needs to replace technology like computers that had screen reader technology and smartphones, as well as other items, such as white canes, personal disability supplies, housing materials, and a custom wheelchair.

On the screen next to this list of our impact is a graphic detailing GADRA's response in Colombia, it includes texts with the location, the hurricane's name, the month and year the hurricane hit, the organization's name and their needs, as well as GADRA's impact, all of which I just said.

It also includes a graphic of an outline of Colombia with various icons symbolizing our impact within that outline.

GADRA's first match was with Bristol‑Myers Squibb, BMS, to support Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente, or Movement for the Reach of Independent Living, or MAVI, after Hurricane Isaias hit Puerto Rico.

MAVI needed support to provide disaster relief and employment training and the community needed positions for people with disabilities to be hired into.

MAVI connected sign language trainings and established ongoing partnerships for future disaster preparedness.

So on screen, we have the graphic yet again.  Another graphic.  It includes text with the location, the hurricane's name, the month and year the hurricane hit, the organization's name and their needs, as well as GADRA's impact.

It includes a graphic of an outline of Puerto Rico, and various icons symbolizing our impact within the outline.

Year two found us supporting the Association á l'Intégration des Personnes Handicapées, or ASSIPHA, after Haiti experienced a 7.2 earthquake in 2021.  GADRA provided legal support to reestablish their operational structure in a post-disaster situation, and ASSIPHA facilitated distribution of essential needs, such as food, water, and disability supplies.  They facilitated transportation to connect with Haitians in rural communities, and developed and delivered a disability-inclusive emergency preparedness program that improved sustainability for disabled Haitians in recent disasters.

ASSIPHA accomplished all of this and more thanks to a generous donation from JP Morgan Chase.

Onscreen are two photos. First, an ASSIPHA training program with 13 people participating. There's a large banner in the front of the room, with the ASSIPHA and GADRA logos.  And second, there are three ASSIPHA team members posing in front of their new truck, with the ASSIPHA and GADRA logos on the door of the truck.

And then finally in February of 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.  Within a few short days of the war, GADRA was able to connect with Fight for Right, which is a women‑led disabled‑led organization.

We connected FFR with resources and partners around the globe to support disabled Ukrainians, and we supported them to circumvent the challenges of wartime banking.

FFR, with GADRA's support, continues to work around the clock, providing case management services through their hotline, which helps disabled people in Ukraine evacuate to other countries and safer parts of Ukraine, provide medical evacuations, medications, food, and water, as well as equipment for warmth during the weather and power loss, accessible housing, and connections to the community supports.

We continue with these efforts while working towards deinstitutionalization for all Ukrainians and advocating on the global platform towards inclusive humanitarian aid.

Onscreen are three photos.  First is of seven people in New York, including representatives from FFR, including Iryna Tecuchova, Tanya Herasymova, and Yulia Sachuk, WID's Marcie Roth, and Shaylin Sluzalis from the Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies.

The second photo is of two wheelchair users in a hotel, smiling and waving to the camera.  And the last photo is a Ukrainian refugee in a gurney and volunteers transporting them in a medical transport vehicle.

Fight for Right continues to demonstrate what inclusive disability‑led wartime response looks like with GADRA's support.

And with that, I'm going to turn it over to Natali.

>> NATALI PERILO:  Thank you, Priya.  My name is Natali, and I use the pronouns she and her.  I have several disabilities, and I'm a program manager at WID.

On February 2023, GADRA activated its rapid response procedure to initiate their emergency operations center.  Following the earthquakes that have devastated Türkiye and Syria, disabled people in crisis again.

GADRA swiftly connected with various disability‑led organizations and partners.  Please allow me to introduce you to the Association of Women with Disabilities from Türkiye, and the Almostakbal Association for the Physically Disabled in Aleppo, Syria.

>> MELIKE:  Thank you very much, everyone.  First of all, I would like to state that Turkish disability community also mourns the saddening loss of Judy Heumann.  She was a hero to all, and I would like to briefly talk about myself and my background before going in detail of what we do with the association.

I am a full member with the Association of Women with Disabilities, and I'm also a board member at European Network of Independent Living (ENIL), and I'm an undergraduate law student.

The Association of Women with Disabilities was founded in 2011.  Its vision was to create an activism space for disabled women, because at the time in Türkiye, there was no disability space in women organizations, and also there was no women's space in disability organizations in Türkiye.

So Association of Women with Disabilities started their work with violence prevention, and having the survivors of domestic violence, disabled women in particular.

And then last year they have started a project on independent living in coordination with ENIL, and that project has been concluded last summer, and with this recent earthquake, Association of Women with Disabilities was the first ‑‑ one of the first organizations to connect with the disabled earthquake survivors.

In the field we helped them to relocate in Ankara, where our association is headquartered.  We are helping them evacuate the region.  We are providing accessible information on shelter places, and especially in the first phase, we provided with alt text descriptions and other accessibility tools for the emergency announcements that published by government, and non‑governmental organizations and volunteers, because in Türkiye, there is not a sense of disabled people.  No one has really remembered us during the course of earthquakes, so really no one told them of putting alt text into their posts and their announcements regarding earthquake, which was at the times life‑saving information on where you can find shelter, where you can find heat and food and water.

So our first response was that, and then after that, we connected with the other activists from the region, and I also must state that I am also from the region, but for the past year, I'm living in Ankara for my education.  But I know these communities affected.  I have loved ones and relatives affected from earthquake personally, and I also know my disabled friends and colleagues in there who has really hard time with, you know, finding accessible housing,
finding access to food, access to information, everything is such struggle.

Also I would like to say that we also work with autistic organizations to provide communication boards and alternative communication methods to autistic people and their families.

Our right now first concern is to create accessible hygiene spaces, accessible bathrooms.  A lot of friends from the region are really struggling to find portable, accessible toilets for disabled people.  There's a high demand for that, and we are trying to support this with our best capacity.

One of our members presented our effort to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  She was in Brussels today.  We are trying to show the world what disabled Turkish people experiencing from our side, from what we see as an organization, and I would like to thank GADRA and World Institute on Disability to providing us this great platform to connect, to ask help, and to, you know, explain what we are doing, and, you know, in a way that be the voice of disabled people, our friends, in the field who are now in horrible conditions.

Thank you very much.

I can answer any questions regarding our organization's activities gladly.

Thank you.

>> NATALI PERILO:  Thank you, Melike.  It's so nice having you here and thank you for sharing that information about your organization and what the needs are.

Feel free to use the chat, and connect with other colleagues.

I'm going to introduce you to our next speaker, Hozyfa, from Almostakbal Association for the Handicapped, in Aleppo, Syria.  And if you would like to turn your camera on, Hozyfa, and tell us about your organization.

>> HOZYFA:  Hi, hello, everybody.  I'm so happy to meet you all.  I’m going to speak for my organization, Almostakbal Association. My name is Hozyfa,  I live in Aleppo, Syria.

I am working as a project manager in Almostakbal Association for disabilities person.

And now with the presentation from my organization. Almostakbal is a charitable organization established in 2005, with aim of supporting people with disabilities and their families in all health, community, nutritional, psychological, and educational aspects. It provides its services to all areas of Aleppo and Aleppo countryside through several centers. The main goal of our association is to provide care and assistance for the physically disabled in order to help them integrate into society and encouraging them to provide distinguished works and make a difference in other people’s lives.

Services granted by Almostakbal Association: providing mobility aides, providing health supplies such as infirmary pads, catheters, urine collection bags, every month.

Providing medical services such as the medical clinic, the urological clinic, and the orthopedic clinic. Providing physiotherapy services for all age groups. These are some pictures. Providing vocational training with the aim of enabling persons with disabilities to be self-reliant and integrating them as active members of society.  We provide our services to all regions of Aleppo through two centers and mobile team for rural – Nile street center, Bab al-Hadid center.

After the earthquakes, after the disasters, increasing number of people with physical disabilities.  People lost their mobility aids, such as wheelchairs and crutches, increasing demand for self‑care items, such as such as diapers,  urine collection bags, urinary catheters, which led to their high cost.

Almostakbal working in this earthquake on several things. Like helping people with disabilities to get to shelter centers, receiving and supervising several centers and taking care people with disabilities, securing food and basic needs for those affected in these shelter centers, and providing psychological support and awareness for those affected in all age groups. And securing self-care items such as diapers, et cetera.

The challenges: Re-equipping the medical center and equipping a mobile physiotherapy team, because we lost a lot of equipment in the earthquakes. Insurance of mobility aids, despite their high price in Syria. Unavailability of self-care tools such as diapers, et cetera. Restoring the psychological balance of people with disabilities after this disaster. And securing temporary adaptive housing for affected families.

And now in Syria, in some of shelter centers, families with disabilities (attempts to play video, background noise).

>> MARCIE ROTH:  This is Marcie.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that the video is showing.  We will certainly make the slides and video available afterwards.

>> HOZYFA:  Thank you for listening and sympathizing with us. We are pleased with your interest and hope to cooperate with you all to serve to serve people with disabilities.

Thank you very much.

Any questions, I will answer, any question.

>> NATALI PERILO:  Thank you, Hozyfa.  I'm going to ask participants, can ask you questions in the chat box?  And if you want to send me the PowerPoint, we can distribute that later as Marcie suggested.

Thank you so much.  We really appreciate you coming here today, and so late, and speaking on behalf of your organization.  So we will be in touch soon, but feel free to use the chat box to communicate with your colleagues.

Thank you.

>> MARCIE ROTH:  This is Marcie Roth again.

I want to thank our speakers for joining us, coming to tell us about the circumstances that they and others are experiencing.

The hope that the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration has is that we will identify resources that can be provided directly to these disability‑led organizations.  The humanitarian processes that are typically available, never quite seem to make it directly to those disability‑led organizations.

They have identified a number of immediate and ongoing needs, and our role with GADRA is to try and match them with corporate and foundation resources that will enable them to continue to serve their community.

The process that I spoke of a few minutes ago, the humanitarian relief process, has been very complicated and arduous, and unfortunately, for these local disability‑led organizations doing the work on the ground, it really has not been a successful process.

So we come together to try and direct those resources directly to them.

And we have a number of response partners who have been extraordinarily helpful.  Unfortunately, we had hoped that Rhiannon Parker from the Valuable 500 would be able to speak to us for a few minutes, but unfortunately Rhiannon, like many of us, has COVID, and so is not able to speak this morning.  But we do want to thank many of the Valuable 500 members who have been so supportive of the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration in previous response.  We are very hopeful that others will follow their lead, and the lead of many of our other response partners, and I'll talk a little bit more about that in a few minutes.

But right now, I do want to pass the mic to a new colleague.  I had the good fortune of meeting folks from the Sabanci foundation in Türkiye at the Zero Project Conference last week, and so I'd like to welcome Ozen Pulat Canpolat.  And I apologize, I probably butchered your name.  But Ozen, we appreciate the leadership of the foundation, and want to hear from you and what you all are doing in Türkiye.

>> OZEN PULAT CANPOLAT: Thank you so much.

So hello, everyone.  My name is Ozen, and I'm from Sabanci Foundation in Türkiye.

So for those who cannot see me, I'm a white woman with long brown, dark brown hair.  Right now I am in Istanbul.

Let me first thank the organizers actually to GADRA for inviting us to this webinar.  We are so happy to be here.

I'm with my colleague, Utku in the webinar today.

So Sabanci Foundation is one of the biggest family foundations in Türkiye.  We are almost 50 years old and our main areas are education, social change, and culture and arts.

We are a grant‑making organization.  We have been supporting civil organizations, working for women, young people, and people with disabilities for more than 15 years.  And we are not a humanitarian organization.  That means it's very difficult for us during the times of disaster to act.

So, you know, we were terribly affected by more than two earthquakes.  The first one was on February 6, and almost the quarter of Türkiye was affected from the earthquake.  11 cities were affected by the earthquake.

Unfortunately, more than 45,000 people lost their lives, and this is still not the final number.  It will probably be increasing soon.  And many people, thousands of people, lost their homes.

I was in the earthquake region two days ago, and this is really unbelievable.  It's worse than the one we saw on TV, so it was really difficult to see the region like that.  And I know it will take a long, long time for us to heal.

According to official numbers, more than 15 million people were affected by the earthquake, and the estimation is 2 million of people with disabilities were living in the region, but one of the most problematic areas is the lack of data actually.  Today we still don't know the exact number of people with disabilities living in the region, let alone different disability groups, but we don't know the total number.

So we also ‑‑ there were more than 4 million students in the region.  Many schools collapsed, so from the education side, it will still take a long time to heal.

So Sabanci Foundation, as I said, we are not a humanitarian organization, but like everybody else in Türkiye, we had to do humanitarian work since the first day.

Right now we sent food, hygiene products, blankets in the region of course, like any other people, but we also set up mobile toilets, and they are still in the area.

There are a number of disability disaster platforms in Türkiye.  It was found that a few years ago, after we had earthquakes and wildfires in Türkiye.  So it's a platform for organizations, mostly working on disasters, so we are part of the group, and that made it possible for us to learn actual needs in the region, and we can sense the needs and we can also organize our work accordingly.

Then we have the need for shelter, of course, so at Sabanci Foundation, we have institutions in the region, such as schools, dormitories, and hospitals, so we opened them as temporary shelters for people affected, and they are still working as a home for many people.

And we also provide grant support to organizations who are working in the region, including disability‑led organizations.

So I can say the first actions of Sabanci Foundation.  But as everybody knows, we had a huge problem of communication and collaboration.  In Türkiye we still have since the disaster, it's called (indiscernible) and many people, many government officials were also affected in the disaster.

We had ‑‑ we couldn't achieve the problem of collaboration and communication for the first weeks.  It's getting better and better, but many people could organize via WhatsApp groups, and I can state the lack of coordination was one of the biggest problems for us.

As for disability, actually we weren't surprised that persons with disabilities were left behind.  It was also very difficult for us to find accessible accommodation places, accessible toilets, because it was even hard to find a regular toilet, let alone accessible ones.

So for the first few weeks, we couldn't do anything on disability.  Just providing grants to disability‑led organizations, but other than that, accessibility was not even in the discussions.  It's so sad to say that, but it's the truth.

Right now we had an inclusive disaster platform.  In this platform, there are many disability‑led organizations, so it is getting better and better for the disability field.  We are also a member of it, so right now we are ‑‑ some people from the group are in the region.  They are checking the data, they are checking the tents of people with disabilities and also the hospitals.  They are making visits.

So I hope we will be having a clear data and information about the needs and situation of people with disabilities in the region, but it has been one month since we had the first earthquake, but we can just talk about it right now.

We were at the Zero Project Conference two weeks ago where we met with Marcie and GADRA.  We also discussed the situation in Türkiye with Access Israel team, who has vast knowledge of disasters and disability.  So we were about 15 people from Türkiye, and we had a meeting with the Access Israel team to talk about the disability organizations in disaster situations in Türkiye.

So we received their feedbacks and also recommendations, so it was really useful for us, and we found the chance to speak up and talk about the situation in Türkiye in terms of disability and disasters.

So when we learned about the GADRA opportunities, we shared it with the inclusive disaster platform, and I know that some organizations have already applied to receive support from it, and I'm sure that there will be more.

So ‑‑ and finally I can say that right now, we are of course having some long term, mid-term plans, but since I was in the region two days ago, we still have a very big problem in terms of hygiene and basic needs, because people are, you know, it has been one month, and we have fewer and fewer support in the region.

So I think one of ‑‑ of course they will have mid and long term plans, but we still need to focus on short term needs and basic needs, including accommodation, hygiene, and food support.  So we will be having both sides, and we are also in contact with many national and international partners to have more sustainable long term plans.

And we're also in touch with many disability organizations to support the needs in the region.

And thank you very much again for inviting us here, and thank you everyone for your support for Türkiye.  Thank you.

>> NATALI PERILO:  Thank you, Ozen, and thank you so much for being able to share your experiences and the experience of residents in Türkiye.

I'd like to bring to the virtual stage, Fadi from SENED, an organization in Türkiye, and an organization that has been working directly, specifically with Syrian refugees with disabilities, and this is a unique group in Türkiye, because they're multiply marginalized, so I would love to welcome you to Fadi and SENED.

>> FADI ARABO:  Thank you, thank you. Hi, everyone.  Thanks for giving us the great opportunity and also good to hear from my colleagues who are active in Türkiye and already focusing on disability.  This is a good chance for us for sharing these experiences and advocate together in this like situation in Türkiye.

I will not give brief about the situation, already our colleagues from different NGOs already speaking about the disaster situation in 11 cities in Türkiye and northwest Syria which is also affected.

Let me just give you brief about SENED organization.  SENED organization was established in 2013 in Türkiye present, which is in Gaziantep, one of their cities, provinces, which was affected directly from the earthquake, and starting from our registration and work, we are mainly supporting the persons with disabilities in both countries, cross-border operations, which is northwest Syria and Türkiye refugee community.

We are mainly focusing to access the refugees with disabilities in general in Türkiye, and in Syrian community, we are also supporting the disability persons.

Working actually in different clusters and working groups, so mainly active in protection activities, which is support action activities starting with (indiscernible) and child protections and the others.  Also (indiscernible) is one of our main sector, and we have like ‑‑ my current team, last week, we are working in 11 provinces, which is affected, and we have over 15 in each city, and already we have most of cities, provinces already have a community center.

Our team trying to find access to disability persons, which is mainly now they are really under protection risk, and we are providing them with different interventions, starting from food kits, hygiene kits, special items and we are referring them especially, like now in the field, there is huge need of the psychological sessions and psychological supports, so our team making directly interventions in the field, making referrals for our community centers for complimentary and comprehensive services.  We providing them with multi-purpose cash.  We provide them also WASH activities.  Also on the slide, because in the tents, in the ‑‑ with the container places, it's not accessible for the persons with disabilities, so we providing them with cash services as well, and we can also support them with some income generation activities and a grant and the multipurpose cash directly as an emergency response.

At the same time, we are working on providing them with the NFI shelters, so this is somehow what we have in our emergency response.

Again in Syria, the situations is very bad, especially in the northwest Syria, which is affected, there is almost five sub-districts which is destroyed, all mostly.  So again there is no big government that can deal with this disaster, so most of the NGO trying their best to cover this gap in the field actually, but still, it’s like, this is disaster, so it cannot be just like one or two or three NGOs can deal with this situation unfortunately.

And especially the persons with disabilities, they are already living in the protection risk, as we already know, so events like disasters and most of the movement from area to area, the transportation is challenging and inaccessible, and they already like lost many relatives.  They also during the disaster, they already left behind and they are now really facing many psychological trauma.

And we are expecting actually many PTSD cases.  We already received after one month.  So now we are past the first one month and we're doing our best actually in collaboration with most of our partners in the both cross border and the refugees to more focusing on the preventative activities, especially with the emergency access, and providing them with emergency cases, emergency sessions to deal with those disasters.

So actually now we are really bad situation, especially when we are speaking about the persons with disabilities and their need in the field.

So currently I can just give you relevant provinces already affected in Türkiye, but there is four provinces which is almost destroyed.  So each one of them have like (indiscernible) so this is huge numbers of people already living in this area.

And already this is area already familiar with the refugees, so almost let's say more than half of the refugees, which is again 2 million, I think, so 2 million refugees already living there.  This is the location of the earthquake.  So they already facing from many challenging and especially also now in the asking for already to extend the target group to support also the unhoused community, because they already facing.

And then we have now working close coordination, cross coordination with ministries, with local actors and different NGO, with municipalities to cover the area, so we do our best actually in the field to cover some needs, and we are mainly focusing on the disabilities, because this is the target and specialist, and we need more specialized interventions actually let's say.

So before earthquakes, we had community centers, we are working in the protection education, particularly in the non‑formal and formal education and inclusive education.  So we already have PTs, speech therapy, and distributing hygiene kits, items.  This is a huge sector.  So it's active in most of the main sectors, and especially (indiscernible) income generation support for persons with disabilities, my sector actually, we providing them.  We giving them money for additional training and internships and skills.

Then we're providing them small grants to more accessibility and comprehensive approaches.

So this is actually just speaking generally.  Now we move totally for the emergency response and we trying our best actually to cover the area and to access disabilities in the field and then refer them to relevant services which is daily available and updated by our field team regarding our service mapping, which is active using now, and we are ‑‑ all clusters, working group who already advocate and we already educate.

And issuing data from the field and making assessment and to advocate the rights of people with disabilities and they need it in the field.  This is my role now, and hopefully by your technical experience, and sharing information will be great also added value for us to benefit from your great experience.

I would like to say thank you for everyone here and we are very happy to be part of this effort.

Thank you.

>> NATALI PERILO:  Thank you, Fadi.

I'm going to present Dawn Skaggs to the virtual stage.

>> DAWN SKAGGS:  Thank you, Natali, and Fadi, and all of our incredible speakers from Türkiye here today.  We are so appreciative of your time.

I want to transition us very quickly to another one of our partners, who is Douglas Zimmerman, and he's joining us from Visionlink today.

Visionlink is the disaster response and resilience platform that has been supporting GADRA to develop, deploy, and continually improve our virtual emergency operations center.  I'll tell you a wee bit about that after we hear from Douglas to tell us a little bit about how this works, how we have built an absolutely, phenomenally robust opportunity for us to create a virtual community to support the disability‑led organizations in Türkiye.

I'm going to turn it over to you, Doug.

>> DOUG ZIMMERMAN:  This is Doug Zimmerman.  I'm the CEO of Visionlink. Honored to be with you folks.

A few just quick points about the software system.

So we are deployed right now, focused on Türkiye, to help create a system where we can capture information from people who have specific needs, and also from those who have assets or resources to share.

Our organization has worked with about 300 different disaster relief operations.  The way we think about this is it needs to be needs-driven.

One of the problems that we have in some of these disasters is people donate things that are not needed and that can be a problem.  Unsolicited donations can be a serious issue when things are rotting on the sides of the road or in warehouses or wherever.

So we're trying to be sort of a connector between those who have needs and those who can articulate those and those who have resources or assets to share.

It's part of a platform that's mobile responsive.  So it works on virtually any device.

It is compliant with assistive devices and it's multilingual.  It also has some really powerful reporting and analytic tools.

The way we think about this is many different organizations need to work together, and they all have their own ways of working.  And so one of the benefits of the platform is that different partner organizations can work in their own way with their own work flows on that platform, so they can both collaborate together, but also have their own private spaces to do their own work.

And we learned that that's a really powerful way of building a partnership.

The other thing that's really good about this platform, if I may say so myself, is that it's very flexible.  Our experience in working in communities and disaster relief operations is that as much as we may think we know what's needed, the real world doesn't always behave.

And so the platform is able to change any field, any form, any search, any search results, any language, in real time, so that as we learn from the actual operation and the folks who are doing the real work on the ground, then we can change the software to match what they need it to do without doing any software programming or software development.

So we can make these changes very, very quickly, and that obviously helps in a disaster response situation.

There are other platforms that are a part of this overall system, so we support donations and volunteers.  We support clients and case management.  We support sheltering and housing, situational awareness, and we just turn on and off different pieces as they're necessary and useful to the folks.

The last thing I'd like to say is that it's our honor to support the World Institute on Disability.  Not only is the cause right, but they're also helping us be sure that our tools are not just compliant with assistive devices, for example, but actually that they work well in the real world, and what's great about that is that the assistance we get from the World Institute on Disability around this, it's put on our software platform.

And then available to all our different customers in all the different places that they work.

It's an honor to introduce myself.  I'm keeping my comments short because I'm watching the time, but we appreciate the opportunity to serve in this cause and we'll be adjusting and configuring the software to be useful.

Dawn, thank you, and back to you.

>> DAWN SKAGGS:  We appreciate Visionlink as one of our important partners.

In the interest of time, I'm going to say one of the most important things right up front.  I wanted to introduce you to GADRA's emergency operations center that you saw briefly on the slide.  There has been a great deal of interaction and connections happening here in this webinar, in the chat box.

We have built the GADRA emergency operations center in order to put structure, strategy, and sustainability to those critical important connections.

So as we talk for the last minute or two about the EOC, the emergency operations center, I want to invite you to write down the home page for the emergency operations center.  If you're here on this webinar, there is an opportunity for you waiting on the home page.

We are very keenly aware at GADRA that there's many barriers for disability‑led organizations and people with disabilities in disasters.  We built this emergency operations center virtually to break down those barriers and allow GADRA to collect the needs of disability‑led organizations who are representing their communities, and match them, as Doug was saying, with resources, with donors, and with support, regardless of where those resources are in the world.

So GADRA is essentially putting the world's resources into a spot where we can channel them to disability‑led organizations who know what they need and know what they need to do in support of people with disabilities impacted by a disaster.

We have ‑‑ we understand from the previous deployments that Priya shared with you that there are a variety of needs that an organization has in a disaster, and they include funding.  They include tangible supports.  They also include intangible supports, services, knowledge, and in the emergency operations center, we are able to continue operations for disability‑led organizations, support them to pivot.

As you heard, they are making changes in order to function in a post disaster world.

So we are putting all of these resources together and bringing partners together, not just stuff, but bringing partners to a mutually beneficial relationship in a secure environment, without having to enter the same information two or three times.  We're allowing people to collaborate, to share goals, to share resources.

Beyond supporting the matches and the partner collaborations, we're supporting the response activities of those DLOs themselves.  One of the ways we're doing that, is as Doug mentioned, making it fully accessible, usable by mobile devices so you don't have to have computer access.  Available in multi languages.  It is currently in four languages, and allows the DLO not only to receive support, but to manage their own operations on a secure site.  So they can manage their own cases, and respond as they need to.

One of the most exciting features of GADRA is that it's not a one size fits all.  We know that does not work.  It aligns with the priorities of being person centered and person driven, accessible, inclusive and accessible.  To meet whatever the needs are.

We are out of time, but I wanted to invite each of you very quickly to visit the GADRA EOC, to make a donation to help people with disabilities in Türkiye, in Syria, to become a funding or an in‑kind partner, or to provide immediate support, and be matched with a disability‑led organization.

You also have the opportunity to join GADRA and learn more about how you can be involved, how we can make what's happening in our chat box truly sustainable, and address collaboratively the challenges that we're seeing emerging in Türkiye and Syria as a result of what they're facing, and will continue to face.

It's truly an original strategy to respond to humanitarian aid, and we'd love you to join us in that.  It is virtual, so it is there every day, all the time, when and how people need it, providing what they need most.

And we've had a lot of help to get this far in GADRA.  And in the last moments, I wanted to turn it back over to Marcie, who will share with you very quickly some of the help that has brought us this far, and we welcome you into the GADRA community to join in these efforts collaboratively.


>> MARCIE ROTH:  Thank you very much, Dawn.  This is Marcie speaking.

And thanks to everyone who has made the time to come together today in support of disability‑led organizations in Türkiye, in Syria, and wherever the next disaster surely will strike.

We have many organizations to thank.  I want to just give a shoutout to a number of them, and those include Americares, Google, the Nippon Foundation, Bristol‑Myers Squibb, AT&T, JP Morgan Chase, Microsoft, Kessler Foundation, Visionlink, a number of family foundations, TIDES, CNN impact your world, and the mobile giving foundation, and many, many others.

GADRA is not a funded program, and most of the funding that's been raised has gone directly to the disability‑led organizations.

We welcome every opportunity to work with folks to expand both our ability to serve the global community and very importantly, to provide direct assistance to disability‑led organizations.

Thank you all for being with us, and let's all do what we can to make sure that those disability‑led organizations have the support that they need to serve their community in their most difficult days.

Thank you very much.

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