On the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, I travelled to the Leogane region of Haiti, the center of the earthquake’s devastation. I went as the guest of an Israeli NGO called Tevel b’Tzedek (The Earth, in Justice) founded in 2005 by Rabbi Micah Odenheimer to promote social and environmental justice in the world. With the support of IsraAid a team of Israeli volunteers travelled to the region soon after the earthquake. Uri l’Tzedek, a U.S. based Orthodox social justice organization, asked me to be the first of a series of rabbis to visit the team and interact with many of the Haitians that they have been helping.
Haiti is one of the poorest countries on the planet. Its per capita income is about $350/ year. Haitians expect nothing from their government. It has been ruled by a succession of leaders who have either been ruthless dictators or incompetents. The $15 billion dollars of aid that poured into the country after the earthquake and the hundreds of NGOs on the ground can barely make a dent in the country’s problems because there are no government agencies that have effectively coordinated the aid effort. READ MORE