Supporters of a local effort to buy an ambulance for Haiti say it is a way to say thank you to a nation that sided with the Jewish community when others didn’t.
“In 1947, Haiti was one of three countries under tremendous pressure to vote against Israel for the United Nations partition,” said Amy Cooper, associate executive vice president of Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey. “Nonetheless, Haiti did vote for partition. This is one way of saying we haven’t forgotten what Haiti did for us when we needed help.”
The federation established the fund-raising effort in early March in response to an initiative launched by a group of local philanthropists.
Shocked by the earthquake damage in Haiti, the philanthropists donated $35,000 — half the funds needed to buy an ambulance — and challenged their friends and fellow Central community members to give the other half.
The ambulance is desperately needed, they said, to transport patients to and from the country’s medical facilities.
The initial deadline was March 31, but it has been extended to mid-April.
Speaking just before Passover, Cooper said the fund was about one-third of the way toward matching the $35,000 put up by the organizers.
“People have been focused on getting ready for Passover and many people will be away during the holiday. We want to be sure everyone has the opportunity to participate. We need to raise about another $20,000,” she said.
The challenge fund, she said, “has been a truly grassroots effort, reaching into the community through synagogues, agencies, organizations, stores, and restaurants. We hope to continue to engage the broadest constituency in this effort.”
In a press release issued just before Passover, the federation reminded its members that while the media spotlight has moved on from the hardest-hit areas, countless Haitians remain injured and maimed and require long-term medical care.
“With your help,” the release continued, “we continue to provide emergency sustenance, medical care, and shelter to victims in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, and long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction support where it is needed.”