February 23, 2010

UPDATED: New Video: JDC Aids Victims of Earthquake in Haiti And An Update from the Ground

A new video highlighting JDC's current efforts in Haiti.   

You can also watch it at this LINK on YouTube.

UPDATE: Steve Schwager, CEO, shares this update from Judy Amit, Chief Operating Officer for Program and Budgets who recently travelled to Haiti.

In the six weeks since Haiti was hit by the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake, JDC has been active on the ground, providing urgently needed medical care and equipment, food, water, shelter, and other basics of life. We have raised more than $5.5 million, with additional funds continuing to come in via the web and from our Federation partners across North America.

A more formal update and a brand new four-minute video will be ready shortly. In the interim I thought I would share with you a portion of JDC Chief Operating Officer Judy Amit’s recent report on her visit to Haiti:

We arrived back from Haiti early last week after an extremely difficult trip, both emotionally and physically. The devastation that we see on TV is nothing compared to the reality on the ground. Port-au-Prince has become a tent city where every available piece of land that is clear of rubble has become a refuge for displaced persons.

The goals of this visit were to monitor existing projects, to review and allocate funding to new projects, to gather information on emerging needs, and to enhance contacts with other NGOs and government entities such as USAID, and to the local and international business community.

We have chosen excellent partners on the ground and all of them are implementing JDC-funded programs under extremely difficult conditions. To date, the bulk of JDC's allocated funding (over $1.7 million) has been designated to provide emergency relief—medical aid and supplies, water, food, shelter…the basics. As we drove through Port-au-Prince, it was amazing to see the water tanks that JDC funded in the tent cities graffitied with donors' names, the JDC logo, and the American and Israeli flags. More important is that these tanks are being constantly refilled with clean drinking water. To date we are supplying some 300,000 gallons.

During our visit we allocated money to ProDev, a local NGO, to establish 10 temporary schools with Haitian teachers and university students in the tent cities. These programs will help meet the critical need to get children back into a structured framework. We have supplied funding for one month, but I believe that this will need to be extended, as many of the schools in Port-au-Prince were damaged or destroyed, and the Haitian Ministry of Education does not yet have a strategy and plan for getting the children back to school.

We also made contact with the well-known Zanme Lasante/Partners in Health (PIH), which is the largest Haitian NGO, established by Dr. Paul Farmer. We will be providing PIH with critically needed ambulances, and are verifying with them additional opportunities for funding, including a feeding program for displaced children living in the periphery.

I have been in contact with Jon North, CEO of Heart to Heart International (H2H), to learn whether the organization is in need of additional funding for their medical teams. A JDC partner based in Kansas City, H2H’s teams are working in towns in the periphery which were badly damaged by the earthquake and are currently underserved. We met with a number of H2H professionals during the trip and can tell you the organization is doing absolutely wonderful work. Something that made a particular impact on me was meeting one of the female doctors working with the H2H team in the Port-au-Prince stadium. She described the wonderful work that the Israeli field hospital did, and became very emotional describing to me how she was invited to spend Shabbat dinner in the company of the Israeli staff.

As I have alluded in this anecdote, JDC's additional value over the past month, over and above the funding, has been in creating synergies between our partners, thus leveraging contacts.

I’d like to share two concrete examples that have resulted in positive impact:

EcoWorks International was in urgent need of additional supplies for their Haiti relief program, which extends beyond the hospital feeding program sponsored by JDC. At our request, AFYA, already a JDC partner, has now sent in a container sponsored by JDC, which includes school supplies for children in the hospital. These supplies are not so much for school work as they are a therapeutic vehicle for children (and adults) to write and to draw to express their pain and fears and begin the process of emotional healing. The hospital is also being supplied with much-needed medicines and medical supplies including sutures, antibiotics, and painkillers. Clothes are also being supplied for all 650 children in orphanages where EcoWorks is operating.

The second area of cooperation is in the needs assessment for the rehabilitation of the approximately 2,500 amputees following the earthquake. JDC has connected the AFYA Foundation, which conducted an assessment last week, with a group of rehab specialists from Magen David Adom (funded by JDC) who are on the ground in Haiti at the moment. The MDA group also visited what remains of the Bernard Mevs hospital, a private hospital serving the poor, where the JDC-funded EcoWorks feeding program is being operated. The Israeli team greatly impressed the senior doctors with their high level of expertise. They were completely hands-on, seeing patients, examining their wounds, and showing two Haitian nurses how to dress and wrap the wounds properly so they not only heal but also take the proper shape so as to be fitted with a prosthesis.

The Torah teaches us that Jews have a responsibility to repair the world. Irv and I believe our work in Haiti clearly shows we, as a community, take that responsibility to heart.

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