New York; September 12, 2008—AJWS today announced that it will be responding to the humanitarian crises in Haiti and the Dominican Republic following Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike. AJWS is an international development organization motivated by Judaism’s imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality.
Partnering with community-based agencies throughout Haiti and the Dominican Republic, AJWS supports grassroots human rights and community development projects that are designed, implemented and managed by the organized poor.
Since late August 2008, heavy wind and rain, floods and mudslides in Haiti and the Dominican Republic have killed approximately 1,500 people and have cut off ground access to 40,000 people due to washed out bridges and roads. While many still have not recovered from last year’s extremely active hurricane season, continued storms and floods have killed hundreds of people and left close to one million homeless.
The hurricanes have had a significant impact on Haitian farmers and rural communities where more than 50,000 families have lost access to their agricultural production. The people that are predominately affected by the storms in the Dominican Republic include the Haitian and Haitian-Dominican population, a community which is already grappling with disproportionate poverty and a lack of infrastructure. Haitian and Haitian-Dominicans are excluded from government sponsored initiatives and services because they are not legally recognized or considered a minority or ethnic group.
Programs funded by AJWS in Haiti provide access to new technology and training to enable agricultural cooperatives; technical support and resources to strengthen peasant organizations addressing agricultural productivity and food security; and health literacy and business skills training to clients of village banks.
Programs funded by AJWS in the Dominican Republic are driven by the priorities of Haitian-Dominican communities struggling to secure basic civil and political rights and legal protections. AJWS helps Haitian-Dominican organizations to integrate health services—including HIV prevention, testing and treatment—into their on-going human rights work. Increasingly AJWS is in a position to foster strategic alliances between our grantees and other international development agencies for networking, service referrals, and learning opportunities.
Regarding the recent hurricanes, AJWS is raising awareness and collecting funds in the Jewish community for emergency response efforts undertaken by its grantees. AJWS is partnering with two grantees in Haiti to provide agricultural inputs and infrastructure reconstruction support to women and farming families most affected by the flooding. AJWS emergency grants will not only meet some of the immediate needs of the affected communities but will also advance their long-term development goals, especially as they relate to reducing disaster vulnerability.
“The situation in Haiti is dire and as Jews it is our responsibility to respond however we can,” said AJWS President Ruth W. Messinger. “Communities in the developing world are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters. Our grantmaking philosophy is to listen to the expertise of the groups we already support in these locations. This level of partnership allows us to help communities address their their needs quickly and effectively when disaster strikes.”
For more information please contact Adriana Ermoli, Senior Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at Aermoli@ajws.org.
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David L. Marcus