Attempts to rebuild Haiti continue one year later

Jewish organizations play key role; American Jewish World Service raises $5m. in past year, "move from disaster to development."

January 12, 2011 21:34
2 minute read.
Daniel Kedar squeezes at the IDF hospital the hand

haiti idf hospital 311. (photo credit: E.B. Solomont)

NEW YORK – A year after the earthquake that killed an estimated 230,000 people, the island nation of Haiti remains in a state of profound disarray.

Over a million people remain housed in displaced person camps, and the capital area of Port-au-Prince remains devastated. With rampant destruction in the cities, villagers have attempted to help their fellow Haitians, but struggle with the sheer numbers of 600,000 people left homeless by the quake. Of those who survived, thousands have lost limbs, and disease and political turmoil are rampant.

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Efforts to help rebuild Haiti from the rubble have made not insignificant inroads into the catastrophe, and various non-governmental organizations said they will continue to work into the coming year.

“Today, we remember those who lost lives, homes and livelihoods in the earthquake one year ago,” former president US Bill Clinton posted on Facebook, “and we’re hopeful for Haiti’s future.”

The Iron Market, a center of Port-au-Prince commerce, collapsed in the 2010 earthquake. Through the Clinton Global Initiative, the rebuilding of the Iron Market started this week, using Haitian construction teams.

Jewish organizations played a prominent role in efforts at Haiti’s reconstruction. According to a report by the Joint Distribution Committee, the JDC raised $7.7 million for Haiti relief efforts in the past year, with the support of Jewish Federations of North America and individuals.

In 2011, the JDC plans to focus on rehabilitation – both physical and psychological – as well as helping the disabled and schooling for Haitian children. JDC’s ongoing services for Haitian amputees will include professional training for local medical and paramedical staff and treatment by a team of Haitian, American and Israeli doctors, physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

The American Jewish World Service plans to continue to support Haitian grassroots organizations, having raised over $5 million over the past year, AJWS Director Ruth Messinger said, to help the country “move from disaster to development.”

According to the organization’s one-year report, AJWS intends to focus on building Haiti “back better” by underscoring human rights through its long-term community development and supporting projects that empower marginalized communities.

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