NEW YORK (UMNS) | Relief efforts given to the people of Haiti after the January 12, 2010 earthquake are highlighted in a CBS-TV religion special, "HAITI: Religion's Response to Disaster," which will begin broadcast on Sunday, December 5.
(Since stations' schedules can change, please check your local station listings to confirm broadcast information.)
After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti in January 2010, some of the first responders were religious relief organizations. These faith-based groups continue to work in Haiti, as the road to helping the country sustain itself remains a very long one.
The program looks at relief efforts begun immediately after the quake, as well as the progress currently being made in Haiti by faith-based organizations. Members of Church World Service, Catholic Relief Services, Jewish Distribution Committee, and United Methodist Committee on Relief will share stories about their work with viewers.
Burton Joseph, a humanitarian program manager at Church World Service (CWS), was born and raised in Port-au-Prince. He assists CWS with expanding rural food co-ops, getting children back to school in new buildings, and aiding those with disabilities before and after the earthquake.
While religious relief organizations worked to help the living, they often struggled to cope with the dying, with some groups mourning the deaths of their own members. Representatives from United Methodist of Relief Committee (UMCOR) were in Haiti when the earthquake hit and lost two members, Reverends Sam Dixon and Clint Rabb. Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR's Assistant General Secretary for International Disaster Response, tells viewers about the Haitian people's struggle for survival and UMCOR's renewed efforts and commitment in Haiti.
The Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC), another faith-based group working in the country, has a long relationship with Haiti. Jewish refugees from Central Europe immigrated to Haiti in 1938 with JDC assistance, an action that saved them from the atrocities of the Holocaust. Gideon Herscher, JDC's Haiti Relief Director, talks about how the organization is reaching its goals to help the country recover. The JDC has opened a new rehabilitation center that serves amputees and injured victims.
Also featured on the broadcast is Charisse Classman, a Washington-based Legislative Assistant for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), a Catholic organization working in and committed to Haiti since 1954's Hurricane Hazel.
John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer. The special was produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the New York Board of Rabbis.