JDC Haiti Mission: H2O to Haiti

Jacky, Vice President of JDC’s Board of Directors, continues reporting from Haiti.

As rescue work shifts to recovery work, I am reminded that JDC has logged extensive experience responding to other large-scale catastrophes, including the Indian Ocean tsunami. That experience has taught us that the choice of partners on the ground is critical, especially in the early going.

By any standard, our first grants to the region during the rescue efforts proved successful. For starters, our purchase of essential medical equipment for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) hospital saved lives. We visited the IDF base upon our arrival and it was so moving to enter the compound and be welcomed by an Israeli flag. We were prouder still of the work they’ve been doing there. With help of JDC they established a first-rate field hospital that treated more than 1,111 people, saved 317 lives, and delivered 16 babies. We can be proud, also, that the IDF hospital was the first to be operational after the quake—a record 10 hours after the medical team landed on the island.

We grabbed a few words with Israeli Ambassador Amos Radian. Over lunch we spoke about his tireless efforts on behalf of the Haitian people during the last two weeks. Amos arrived within hours of the quake from Santo Domingo, where he also serves as ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He was instrumental in establishing the field hospital and working with CNN which covered IDF’s efforts.

We also had the good fortune to meet Daniel, whom I mentioned yesterday—great guy—and his wife, Maryse. Daniel is a local entrepreneur, an Israeli who has made Haiti his home while maintaining excellent ties with Israel. Maryse is a former Minister of Tourism in Haiti and also represents Caribbean Cruise Lines here.

The couple has long supported strategies to improve the lives of Haiti’s poorest citizens through Maryse’s ProDev Foundation. The focus of their efforts is water.

Everywhere you go in Haiti men, women, and children clamor for water. Clean, safe water is in extremely short supply after the quake and their desperation is taking a hard toll on its victims. The hospitals are filled with people suffering from dysentery and illnesses related to drinking unclean water, to speak nothing of rampant dehydration.  In response, they have commenced a project designed to bring clean, potable water, in the form of water tanks, to the hundreds of thousands of displaced people living in tent camps. The water tanks are big, holding up to 5,000 gallons, and will be refilled as needed.

The tanks themselves cost only $4,000 US each a small sum in relation to the lives to be saved. To help pay for them, Daniel’s idea was to have the tanks “sponsored.” So I watched with pride, as two Haitian graffiti artists painted the names Yoni Yishai Itai Nelu Chen and Amee on the gleaming metal tanks. Those are the names of my children. I wanted them to know that they, too, are part of this effort to save lives.

I also asked the artists to write something else on the tanks, graffiti style—the letters J-D-C. You see, JDC is also part of my family. I count serving on their Board as one of the great blessings in my life.

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