AJWS Calls on Congress to Bring Haitian Voices into Reconstruction Talks

Organization President Ruth Messinger Concerned That No Haitians Will Be Included in Today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing

New York, NY; February 4, 2010—In advance of today’s hearing held by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations concerning Haiti’s reconstruction, American Jewish World Service president Ruth Messinger expressed her concern that Haitian voices be heard as plans for rebuilding begin:

“I want to thank the committee for taking up this critical issue and the countless government officials for their dedication and desire to do what they can to assist Haiti in this time of need.

“While I am pleased that this important hearing is being held and believe that the witnesses called have important information to share with Congress, I am disappointed that the witness list is devoid of Haitian voices. Haiti’s reconstruction should be led by Haitians.

“American Jewish World Service has been supporting grassroots organizations around the world for 25 years including partners in Haiti for more than a decade. Above all else it has taught us that success and development must come from the people. It is my sincere hope, and I know I share this view with many others, that Haiti is rebuilt by Haitians responding to the needs and desires of the Haitian people.

“Countries around the world including the United States do have an essential role to play in providing everything from resources to technical support, and I look forward to seeing an improved process for collaboration with more Haitian voices as we move forward. This is the best way to ensure U.S. reconstruction dollars help create a sustainable Haiti.”

AJWS has raised more than $5 million for its Haitian grantees since the earthquake. The money raised will enable these community-based organizations — particularly women’s groups — to actively participate in response efforts, rebuilding of local institutions, recapitalization of the rural sector and long-term sustainable development.

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