JRS

Water is distributed from a truck in the Canape Vert neighborhood of Port-au-Prince to Haitians displaced by last week's earthquake. (UN photo by Sophia Paris)
Washington DC, 22 January 2010 – Jesuit Refugee Service has become a leader in providing emergency food and medical aid to the suffering people of Haiti. Fr. Kawas Francois, S.J., Coordinator of the Jesuit response to the disaster, says that as of Thursday morning, food aid from the wider international community has not reached the many of the people who need it most. However, Jesuit Refugee Service has been able to drive trucks of food and other supplies from the Dominican Republic.

One has to wonder why countries are unable to duplicate the work accomplished by JRS. “We have decided to give a little of our food aid and medicines to certain other organizations in addition to our response centers,” Fr. Francois added. This will enable more people to be provided for. “Not only are the Jesuits responsible for collection of goods at the social centers in the Dominican Republic, and the transport of supplies from the group of relief organizations from the D.R. to Haiti, the Society of Jesus is also leading the receipt and distribution of emergency supplies in Port-au-Prince,” said Sonia Adames of Jesuit Refugee Service in the Dominican Republic. Fr. Francois reports that a team of doctors from the Dominican Republic has arrived and deployed to Léogâne, a small town about 20 miles west of Port-au-Prince, with a convoy of humanitarian aid. “The situation is terrible in that village,” Fr. Francois said. “It is 90% destroyed. We must not forget other communities outside of the capital. There are victims there as well.” A medical team has arrived in Port-au-Prince from Chicago to meet with Br. Jim Boynton, S.J., and provide medical services in Port-au-Prince to earthquake victims. Br. Boynton is coordinating the volunteer teams that have been dispatched to Haiti with JRS and Jesuit resources. 

Working with Br. Boynton in this task are Jake Wood and William McNulty. One subunit of the medical team from Chicago is for a trauma operating room: Dr. Ivankovic, an orthopedic trauma surgeon and head of orthopedic surgery at Roseland Hospital, Dr. Sodi, an anesthesia trauma specialist, Tomas Rosen, Physician Assistant for orthopedic trauma, and Karen Korkmaz, RN. A second subunit for emergency room/critical care/urgent care/infectious disease treatment consists of Dr. Consalter, president of Medici Healthcare Providers and an attending physician at Illinois Masonic Hospital; Robert Thomann, physician’s assistant; Rositte Marine, RN, and Seth Tesqi, RN. The third subunit is for acute and chronic wound care, which will be handled by former U.S. Armey medic Zacharia Schindlebeck, a wound care specialist. Fr. Francois reports that another team of doctors from Puerto Rico will arrive soon and they will be assigned to new intervention locations, thus providing aid to more people. Jesuit Refugee Service/USA has received several offers of donations consisting of clothing, food and blankets. While we certainly appreciate these offers, it is simply not possible for us to accept them. 

The best way to help is to donate financially to organizations such as JRS/USA responding to the disaster. Cash allows relief professionals to procure exactly what is needed in a disaster situation and ensure that donations are culturally, dietary, and environmentally appropriate. Cash donations do not use up other scarce resources, such as transportation, staff time or warehouse space. As needed, cash can also be transferred quickly to where needed, helping bolster the economy of the disaster-stricken region.