Disaster & Trauma Relief Initiatives

Disaster and Trauma Relief mobilizes global volunteers to provide immediate aid and care, trauma relief, and long-term community development post disaster.


In response to natural and manmade disasters, IAHV collects funds and goods for immediate material aid and care, provides and supports trauma relief and stress-management programs, and supports long-term rehabilitation.

Immediate Material Aid and Service

IAHV US collects funds and goods to support emergency services and material aid in the aftermath of disasters provided by other IAHV country organizations and its partner organization, the Art of Living Foundation. These emergency services provide food, clothes, medicine and shelter. Doctors, counsellors and other physical and mental health experts form an integral part of such immediate relief efforts.

Trauma Relief

For survivors of disasters, who have experienced severe physical and emotional trauma, material help alone is not sufficient. Alleviating the trauma and helping people to reclaim their lives is essential. IAHV’s Trauma Relief programs – the Breath Water Sound Program and the Art of Living Course – teach participants how to process their emotions and stress through the breath, to shift their attention away from reliving the past towards future possibilities. Participants leave the workshop with stress and trauma management techniques, healthy coping strategies, stronger community bonds and a sense of personal power.

Hurricane Katrina

IAHV trainers from around the US initiated Trauma Relief Programs starting just days after Hurricane Katrina. Establishing a center in New Orleans for 2 years, IAHV volunteers taught Trauma Relief programs to 2,600 aid workers, children, and adults. During the course of the Hurricane Katrina effort, 161 university students were trained in delivering Breath Water Sound through Youth Leadership Training Program.

Long-term Rehabilitation: Sustainable Community Development

True relief can only happen when disaster survivors are completely rehabilitated – physically and emotionally. To support communities in developing sustainable solutions, IAHV’s global organizations and volunteers work in villages and with local communities, building homes, sanitation systems, roads, schools, vocational training centers and other necessary infrastructure. IAHV-US raises funds to support these ventures, including for the 5H program in India.

RISE: Refugee Integration and Self-Empowerment (RISE)

In the US, IAHV launched the Refugee Integration and Self-Empowerment (RISE) Program in 2009 to assist Bhutanese refugees in Atlanta to handle high levels of trauma and stress. These refugees have faced challenges integrating into their new circumstances in the United States.

RISE offers:

  • Trauma Relief through Breath Water Sound, and Art of Living courses for youth and adults
  • Women’s Job Training and Employment in Home cleaning; jewelry making, knitting and sewing
  • Tutoring and Mentoring
  • Access to Transportation
  • Fundraising for women’s projects

RISE is currently working in:

  • Atlanta – 750 refugees
  • Houston – 50 refugees
  • Austin – 72 refugees
  • Minneapolis – 45 refugees
  • Cleveland – 29 refugees
  • Boston – 41 refugees
  • Boise – 35 refugees