JDC Responds to Natural Disasters in Haiti

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on August 14, Jewish Federations have joined international relief efforts through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s (JDC) international humanitarian assistance, as well as Israeli non-profit organizations. The long-standing collaboration between the Jewish and Haitian Diaspora communities in North America provides us with insight into the needs on the ground and the goals of the Haitian-American community.

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is working to construct a medical clinic in Haiti with its local partner, Heart to Heart, Avital Sandler Loeff, the JDC’s executive director of disaster relief and international development, told eJewishPhilanthropy. The JDC is also speaking with Heart to Heart about how it can help address the need for shelter to assist those who were left homeless by the earthquake.

The Joint might send a team to Haiti in the near future, but because it doesn’t currently have one there, it is working instead through partners, which is considered a best practice in disaster relief. Bringing in outside assistance right away can create problems, Loeff said, by driving up prices for local goods and services and creating vehicle shortages, traffic and “needless confusion and lack of coordination among responders.”

The Joint’s first shipment of medical supplies to Haiti, sent jointly with the Afya Foundation, has reached its destination, and the organization will be sending additional shipments, Loeff said. JDC has worked in Haiti several times in recent years: after the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, and during the cholera epidemic.

On August 25, at 2:00 PM Jewish Federations of North America will be hosting a webinar in partnership with the Haitian Roundtable to provide an overview on the situation in Haiti – made more difficult by the impact of a tropical storm mere days later – on the ways that Jewish Federations and JDC have mobilized in response to this crisis, and how the Haitian-American and Jewish communities will stand together to support those affected by this disaster in the days to come. They will be joined by elected officials, community leaders, and representatives of relief organizations who will share their expertise in this moment of urgent need. Click here to register.