World ORT prepares long term aid project for Haiti


21 January 2010 World ORT prepares long term aid project for Haiti As search and rescue operations wind down one week after the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti attention is turning to how to help the Western Hemispheres poorest country in the long term and World ORT is gearing up to play its part, provided that adequate funds become available. WWW.ORT.ORG/HAITI . Armed with extensive experience of aiding post-crisis countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India and Sri Lanka, World ORT is drawing up plans to provide partners in Haitis NGO sector with the resources and technical assistance they need to identify and respond to the needs of stricken communities. Through the provision of small grants that focus on social services, health and education, as well as hands-on technical assistance, mentoring, and training in organisational development, World ORT aims to increase local NGOs ability to provide critical assistance to survivors and to rebuild sustainable services for local communities. The President of Haiti, Rene Preval, has appealed to donors to focus not just on immediate aid but also on long-term development and that is precisely where World ORT can make a significant contribution, said World ORT Director General and CEO Robert Singer. The whole education system will have to be rebuilt, for example, and we have the relevant expertise to provide teacher training, trauma counselling and new equipment. We believe we can also play a vital role in training Haitians with the professional skills they will need to reconstruct the country. In the United States, World ORT is a member of the coalition, managed by the Joint Distribution Committee, to spearhead the Jewish response to the Haitian crisis. Other members of the coalition include the Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, AJWS, and American Jewish Committee. World ORT plans to coordinate its contributions with our partners in the coalition as well as with various international donors, Mr Singer said. These contributions will be implemented by World ORTs International Cooperation Department (ORT IC), which has implemented more than 350 non-sectarian projects in 92 countries to the benefit of more than two million people since its establishment in 1960. The hallmark of ORT IC is its ability to strengthen a self-sustaining, locally-based training capacity through local, regional and national partnerships, said the Director of ORT ICs Washington bureau, Celeste Angus. In Albania, for example, following the Kosovar refugee crisis, ORT IC worked with 35 communities on improved school infrastructures, 45 rural communities received improved health care, seven communities received assistance for the disabled population, and one social service centre was established. ORT IC has provided trauma counselling and job skills training, as well as supporting infrastructure improvement projects, for Sri Lankan communities hit by the tsunami and in similarly affected Indian communities it has provided a major education improvement programme for 20 schools. It was five years ago this month that ORT IC conducted a needs assessment trip to Sri Lanka to identify partners to provide assistance to communities devastated by the tsunami. An emphasis was placed on finding partners who did not duplicate efforts in planned or existing programmes and organisations were selected which could create synergy with each other. Local NGOs reported that some donor funding and sponsorships had been diverted from existing programmes, thus creating a support vacuum to marginalised groups, Ms Angus said. We created partnerships which have not only provided support for tsunami survivors but have also continued to support on-going initiatives that were in place prior to the tsunami. World ORT is discussing options with Creole-speaking aid professionals with whom it has worked in Haiti before but it is clear that ORT IC will replicate the methodology established post-tsunami. World ORT President Dr Jean de Gunzburg said it was natural for the organisation to be involved in the Haiti relief effort. The earthquake is a humanitarian catastrophe afflicting one of the worlds poorest, most vulnerable nations. We are a humanitarian organisation so we should do what we can and we will do what we know how to do, Dr de Gunzburg said. The President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, has said that the devastation gives an opportunity to build back better. We hope to be able to help make his words a reality. Ways to give Click for credit card AID=76 Click for cheque Click for bank transfer