This photo essay is the first of three in the “Three Faces of Service – Japan, Alabama, Sengegal” series. The photos were contributed by Andrew Scheer.

When disaster strikes, it is a natural human response to want to help those who are suffering. We donate money to organizations helping the afflicted area. We organize clothing and food drives. We go and assist with the clean up efforts. But sometimes, we feel compelled to do even more.

In a year rife with natural disasters that devastated communities across the globe, Andrew Scheer, a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah (YCT) in New York, went on three unique service trips. He traveled to Japan after the earthquake, to Birmingham, Alabama after the tornadoes, and to Senegal on a Rabbinical School Delegation trip with American Jewish World Service (AJWS).

As Andrew wrote, “Rabbis, and more broadly clergy as a whole, feel a personal connection to those in the world going through turbulent times.” The images he captured along the way, show how he was able to put those words into motion, traveling to afflicted areas to make a concrete difference with his words, actions, and presence. Below, check out a slideshow of moving images from Andrew’s service in Japan (see Repair the World’s post on the disaster in Japan here). And check back next week for part 2.

1. A delegation of Chabad Rabbis from across Asia and myself in a middle school gym turned temporary housing shelter in Minamisoma, Fukushima-prefecture, a town which straddles the nuclear evacuation zone.
2. Standing in front of the destroyed factory of my friend, Hidetaka Muto
3. My friend Ariel Steiner, an Israeli living in Tokyo, and myself unloading a van at a distribution center in Iwanuma, Miyagi-ken
4. Displaced families leave their temporary shelter during the day to clean up the remnants of their homes.
5. The destroyed seawall, made of reinforced concrete, through which the tsunami waves flowed on March 11th, 2011
6. Chabad Rabbis from Japan, India, Sri Lanka and the Philippines taking a break during the all night drive from Tokyo to Fukushima-ken
7. Standing in front of the prison where several Israeli Jews have been held for over three years.
8. Walking into the prison in Chiba to visit imprisoned Jews during Passover.