OU to Help Victims of Earthquakes in Haiti and Chile

March 3, 2010

In response to the devastation and human suffering caused by the recent 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti that left more than 200,000 dead, 300,000 injured, and one million homeless, the Orthodox Union has joined forces with Jewish organizations across the globe raising funds to help with time-sensitive relief and recovery efforts. Now, following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile, the OU will direct emergency relief funds to that that country as well.

According to Rabbi Steven Weil, OU Executive Vice President, “Jews are described by the Talmud as rachmanim b’nei rachmanim, a particularly compassionate people who are sensitive to the suffering of all. We could not sit by and ignore this terrible drama of human suffering and misery.”

In addition to opening a mailbox for donations at http://www.ou.org/giving/earthquake, information concerning the OU’s emergency campaign was sent to leadership active with the OU, yeshivas and OU-member synagogues.

To date, the OU has raised in excess of $200,000, of which $150,000 has already been allocated to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and the William J. Clinton Foundation for relief and recovery efforts in Haiti. Presented below is a list of how OU funds are being used by the JDC and the Clinton Foundation in support of the rescue and relief work.

• Working in partnership with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), OU funds help support EcoWorks International to provide a feeding program for patients and their families as well as medical staff, based out of the remains of a collapsed local hospital; to Prodev Foundation to provide water tanks that will ensure clean drinking water for hundreds of thousands of quake victims living in tent villages; to Magen David Adom to send a Health Emergency Response Unit and an Israeli Rehabilitation Team;

• Also, to Heart-to-Heart International to provide medical care, equipment, and services to victims of the earthquake; to Chabad Lubavitch to sponsor trucks of food and trucks of medical supplies, medicine, and antibiotics to Haiti from the Dominican Republic; to the Afya Foundation to provide containers of mattresses, blankets, much-needed medical supplies, and tents; and to Partners in Health to purchase ambulances to transport internally displaced persons between medical clinics in Port-au-Prince, the Central Plateau, and the lower Artibonite Valley.

Of particular note was the Medical Corps of the Israeli Defense Forces, whose team of more than 220 medical professionals operated a field hospital in Port-au-Prince for two weeks following the disaster. OU funds were used by the JDC to help equip the hospital, furnishing infant incubators for its neonatal unit and much-needed orthopedic devices.

• Working in partnership with the William J. Clinton Foundation, OU funds help support ACTED to provide emergency assistance as well as provide and deploy shelter and first aid kits; to CARE for the distribution of much needed food and water to survivors; to Concern Worldwide USA to provide food, water, shelter, and medicine, to survivors; to International Organization for Migration to support the coordination and delivery of emergency shelter; to International Rescue Committee for medical care, clean water, and emergency sanitation for survivors.

• Also, to Médecins du Monde for the distribution of medicine; to Médecins sans Frontières to provide surgery and basic medical care to as many patients as possible; to Oxfam to provide in excess of water, sanitation, health and shelter equipment; to Partners in Health to provide medical care and supplies, as well as bring in urgently needed medical expertise to Haiti; and to World Food Program to distribute high-energy biscuits as well as airlift food from WFP emergency hubs.

OU Chile Earthquake Disaster Fund:

News of another cataclysmic earthquake occurring just before Purim brought Yom Kippur to the minds of many, and the haunting words of the Unetaneh Tokef prayer recited on that day – who will perish by water, by fire, by natural disasters…

In response to the 8.8 magnitude earthquake that struck central Chile on the morning of February 27, 2010, one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history, the OU is encouraging members of our community to once again tap into their wellsprings of generosity and make a gift of tzedakah in support of this humanitarian crisis. One hundred percent of the donations collected by the OU will be distributed to organizations providing direct relief to those in need.