Churches Rally to Support Haiti Relief

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Members of the Israeli Defense Force supply first-response care at a Haiti hospital.
Members of the Israeli Defense Force supply first-response care at a Haiti hospital.

“For the past 15 years, the Haiti Support Project has been working to build a constituency to increase the understanding of Haiti.  Founder Ron Daniels was speaking at a press conference of the Churches United to Support Haiti strategy meeting called by Reverend Dennis Dillon and held at the Brooklyn Christian Center on Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn. 
With help from nations and organizations from around the world pouring into Haiti, Daniels sees the focus of his organization as being on 3 phases: “relief, recovery and reconstruction.” Daniels said it was important that the Haiti Support Project find the groups that lie outside of the usual flow of aid dollars and services.  The “niche” that they decided to work with are the local grassroots organizations with a history of delivering social services, literacy and health services. 
Daniels insists that capacity building is the path for the future that Haiti must also embark on.  “Haiti was the first Black republic in the world”, he says, “Haiti defeated Napoleon” and thus weakened him, paved the way for the Louisiana Purchase.
“What is needed is a global Marshall Plan for sustainable development that includes components such as microcredit pending so that people can become “fishermen and women and not just consumers of fish,” said Daniels adding that the Haiti Relief Fund is supported by the National Action Network and the National Urban League. 
Mindful that organizations from the Red Cross to Wyclef Jean’s Y‚le Haiti  have difficulties maintaining current filings,  Daniels said that 100% of the donations will go to services, and that administrative costs will be covered by other funding.  An oversight  committee headed by Dean Richard Jones of Medgar Evers College, will ensure that the financial records will have “transparency and accountability.”  The Web site is www.ibw21.org.
The organization’s work will include counseling for Haitians in the U. S., a Black adoption program and a Toussaint L’Overture Brigade of students who will go to Haiti over Spring Break to help with the recovery effort. 
“We recognize there has to be a journey beyond this crisis,”  said Dillon, echoing Councilwoman James’ call for a sustained giving effort.    Dillon announced that the venerable Mother Zion AME Church would be the venue for the February 6th Unity Prayer Service and Haiti Relief Rally.   The 2,600-seat church is located on 137th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Blvds. in Harlem.
American Clergy Leadership Conference co-Chair Michael Jenkins said they are calling  Christian, Muslim and Jewish houses of worship together at this time when “All of the world is weeping for Haiti.
Councilwoman Letitia James called the events “a tragedy of biblical proportions” and noted that the “men and women of God have responded in kind.”  Councilman Jumaane Williams said that people are dying because the infrastructure is not there.  “Don’t send supplies, send money, said the councilman.  It’s time to be surgical in our support.”

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