WJR Haiti Update
The World Jewish Relief emergency appeal for Haiti endorsed by the Movement for Reform Judaism was, thanks to your support, a remarkable success. Find out more in this update report from WJR.
World Jewish Relief responded immediately to the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th 2010. Over 200,000 people died, thousands of homes were destroyed and survivors were left with nowhere to live. Our initial interventions focused on providing a range of local partners with emergency provisions to support those immediately affected. It was the first time a capital city has been destroyed in an earthquake since the seventeenth century. Further aftershocks continue to shake the area and terrify survivors and it has become apparent that it will take at least a decade for many parts of the affected area to be rehabilitated. Our programme has now moved into a longer term approach, focusing on supporting the recovery of communities.
Within hours of the catastrophe, WJR had secured the support and endorsement of 13 key Jewish communal agencies and launched its Haiti earthquake appeal. Liaising carefully with an array of international and local partners, we sought to identify immediate initiatives with trusted partners who already had a presence on the ground. The timeliness of the appeal and with the support of our communal partners, WJR was able to raise a staggering £500,000 in response, enabling a significant emergency and longer term contribution to be made in support of victims of the disaster.
WJR helped to provide 715 shelter tarpaulins and 278 food packages to those people who had been made homeless in the Carrefour Feuilles slum district, and were sheltering on communal land at the mercy of the elements. With the rainy season approaching in April, assisting those displaced find temporary transitional shelter has become critical and WJR has purchased a further 20 large family tents and 142 basic family water kits comprising water containers, buckets, soap and water purification tablets. The bulk of these materials were purchased locally or in the Dominican Republic bypassing logistical blockages at port and airport.
Given the complete collapse of Haiti’s medical infrastructure, WJR assisted in the purchase of five medical kits, each containing essential medical supplies to provide health care for 10,000 people for three months. The kits are crucial to the running of clinics, providing vital equipment and supplies for primary health care interventions.
Assistance to Children
With families separated and parents killed by the earthquake, there are already large numbers of traumatised and displaced children frightened and alone on the streets. WJR has enabled the purchase of 286 hygiene kits, and 24 child support kits to help create safe and welcoming “child friendly” spaces within the turmoil of the post disaster chaotic environment. These safe centres have provided a place where children can play, be looked after and be given a vital sense of normality and routine as soon as possible after their ordeal so they can begin to recover.
Looking ahead: primary health care through mobile clinics
In line with WJR’s objectives of providing both immediate short assistance as well as medium to long term sustainable interventions, WJR has been able to maximise the remarkable contribution made on behalf of the British Jewish Community to victims of the earthquake.
Spontaneous settlements have emerged and recent estimates suggest that up to 800,000 people are living in temporary shelters in Port-au-Prince alone. Camps have minimal access to health services, safe water and sanitation and with the rainy season rapidly approaching, WJR has considerable concerns about the outbreaks of infectious diseases in these new communities. Women are also at risk, with few pregnant women giving birth supported by skilled attendants or in safe environments. With over 200,000 people starting to relocate to rural areas, health support will also be needed outside Port-au-Prince.
Supporting survivors through mobile clinics
To respond to these needs, WJR has established an operational partnership with Merlin, an international medical relief agency, with significant experience operating in such contexts. The partnership will enable the establishment of mobile clinics that will bring primary and maternal health care to underserved communities. Clinic staff will also focus on treating communicable diseases, at the same time working to prevent them. Each mobile clinic will carry out up to 5,000 consultations every month, targeting the most vulnerable – those with limited access to health care services, displaced communities, women and children.
Mobile clinics each consist of two vehicles that are equipped with medical equipment, drugs and staff that are able to provide health care services. They offer primary health care, maternal health care, and the prevention and treatment of infectious disease. To support these services, clinic staff will provide hygiene and sanitation kits, whilst community health workers will be trained to assist in health promotion and disease prevention. Staff will also refer more serious cases to a local hospital base or to other capable health facilities for specialist treatment.
Four mobile clinics will operate in areas where there are significant health, hygiene and disease prevention needs, and where communities have no permanent health care facilities. By 17 March 2010, two mobile clinics are already up and operational, providing health services to immensely vulnerable communities in the Petit Goave and Leogane areas. The additional two clinics will be active by early April.
As the current movement of displaced communities begins to settle and an emerging Ministry of Health takes greater responsibility, the plan is to replace the mobile clinics with more static permanent structures catering for longer term health needs of the community after 6 months handing over these facilities eventually to government health departments. However with rains beginning to fall onto communities who live in very temporary and inadequate shelter, this disaster is far from over.
WJR has sought to identify persons from within the Jewish community who can be deployed to assist in the delivery of the project for a six month period.
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