Haiti: "They told me what happened with tears in their eyes"

Mireille Flores, World Jewish Relief’s Humanitarian Programmes Manager, has just returned from Haiti to supervise the delivery of World Jewish Relief’s support following the devastation of Hurricane Matthew.

She said: “I met an elderly couple in their 70s and 80s whose house is now just rubble. When we arrived they were both sitting outside. Their clothes were all over the place, hanging in the trees and strewn across bushes. They told me what had happened to them with tears in their eyes and showed me what was left of their home. I asked them where they were now living. They told me they had got hold of some corrugated metal sheets and made a little hut from it. Then a neighbour came and offered them the house of her dead mother – she’d died in the hurricane. It was a deeply humbling moment.”

World Jewish Relief’s emergency appeal following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti has raised over £100,000 so far.  Donations are still urgently needed to support more than 1.4 million people in urgent need of food, water and shelter.

World Jewish Relief’s first programme will support families on the island of La Gonave to buy food for three weeks. Prices of many basic goods have increased as a result of the disaster.

The programme will also provide money to repair their homes with a new roof. Half of all homes were destroyed by the hurricane. World Jewish Relief’s assessment team chose La Gonave as it is being overlooked by the majority of NGOs who are focusing on Haiti’s mainland.

Richard Verber, World Jewish Relief’s Head of External Affairs, said: “Many Haitians are repairing their homes using palm branches. We were struck by this image as the Jewish community here in the UK has been using palm branches for their lulav during Succot. Many of the homes in Haiti we will be repairing are as flimsy as the succahs Jewish families have been eating in and serve as a reminder of the need to provide shelter at this difficult time.”

World Jewish Relief’s Chief Executive, Paul Anticoni, said: “Once again the Jewish community has shown its outstanding generosity at a time of crisis and I want to thank all of our supporters for backing us – particularly given the time of year and the pressure on charity donations. As with our response in Nepal and the Philippines, we are showing the added value and impact of working in hard-to-access places and where others are not. We strive to ensure that every pound donated by the Jewish community goes as far as it can.”

The appeal has been backed by the Senior Rabbis across all the major synagogue movements, including the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Rabbi Danny Rich and  Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg.

Donations can still be made via www.worldjewishrelief.org/haiti or by calling 020 8736 1250.

Read more in The Jewish News

Photo credit: Livia Bouvier, RNDDH

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