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October 28, 2016

Haiti: We’re repairing homes and feeding families


Haiti: We’re repairing homes and feeding families

Just 3 weeks ago Hurricane Matthew swept through Haiti destroying homes and livelihoods and devastating huge areas of the country. Thanks to the incredible support of the UK Jewish community, we were able to swiftly respond and are proud to tell you about the essential humanitarian aid we are now providing.

Our appeal continues as many more still need our urgent help as well as our expertise in establishing longer-term livelihood programmes.

Here is an update on the situation and ways we are helping from Mireille Flores, our Humanitarian Programmes Manager:

I was deployed to Haiti within 48 hours of the hurricane striking.  I flew in on a plane-load of humanitarian workers from all the major aid organisations.  I was immensely proud to be representing World Jewish Relief and responding so quickly to the disaster.  I also felt a huge responsibility to the victims of the hurricane and to ensuring we could help them appropriately.

World Jewish Relief believes in working with locals partners as the most dignified and empowering way to provide aid so we quickly teamed up with RNDDH, a human rights group with an excellent reputation and an established network of representatives across the country.  Together we headed to the island of La Gonave to assess needs there.  Residents of La Gonave are isolated from the mainland and rely on animal husbandry and growing their own food in order to eat.  Tragically, Hurricane Matthew has wiped out 90% of the crops (corn, yucca, peanuts, avocados, beans) and killed many of the animals, leaving this community destitute.  Most cannot afford to buy food at regular prices, let alone with post-hurricane price hikes which have doubled a lot of costs.

As I travelled around the island, assessing the damage and meeting with community representatives, I heard many tragic stories.  One community had lost their entire avocado crop which they sell in the market to pay the children’s school fees.  Another had no water as their only means of collecting it prior to the hurricane had been with buckets tied to their rooves. These were all swept away in the hurricane.  Over 50% of homes on La Gonave have been destroyed leaving many sleeping outside.

A woman called Esme told me “I was inside my house with my five children when the hurricane came.  Everything in the house was crashing down.  At first I turned to grab some things but it was too dangerous so I grabbed the children and ran out.  We lost everything”.

Sylvan, a young man from a community in the north said he tried to grab the zinc sheets as they were ripped from the roof of his house but he couldn’t get to them in time and had to watch as they were whipped away.  He and his family also lost all their animals in the hurricane so they have nothing to sell in order to purchase new materials to repair their house.

Depsite the hardship, I witnessed real community spirit with everyone pulling together to share what they have and to look after one another.

Together with RNDDH we have assessed the needs of everyone in La Gonave, and created a ‘vulnerability criteria’ so that we can provide the most needy (including the disabled) with funds to repair their homes and buy basic rations.

We also travelled to the worst hit southern parts of Haiti.  At first it looked like no-one lived there until we gradually saw that every single home had been razed to the ground leaving the land totally barren.  As we passed a town called Les Irois I saw a funeral procession and learned it was for a woman whose house had flooded during the storm.  In a terrifying moment her baby son had slipped from her arms and disappeared under the rushing water.  Although she had managed to pull him out, the shock had been too much and she had later died.

So many in these communities are struggling and desperately in need.  World Jewish Relief are proud to have raised in excess of £100,000 (so far) so that we can provide food and shelter.

Given the complex needs of each individual family, we have implemented a system of cash transfers to facilitate either the purchase of materials for home repair or buy food for the family. We believe this is a dignified and enabling way to provide humanitarian aid.

To feed a family of five for one week costs £83 (including approx costs for meat £7, fish £10, fruit and veg £10, rice £3, oil £5.52 and flour, sugar, milk £6.50 as well as water, maize, bread etc)

Basic home repairs (including zinc sheets for the roof) costs £125 per family.

Thanks to your support we are ensuring hundreds will now have food and shelter.

Thank you.


  • 900,000 people are expected to need vaccinations in the most affected areas.
  • 894,057 children are among the 2.1 million affected people.
  • 13,650 women will give birth in next 3 months in the areas affected by the hurricane and 15 per cent are expected to have birth complications.
  • 806,000 people need food urgently.
  • 116,000 children are out of school.

*photos courtesy of Livia Bouvier, RNDDH