ORT's International Cooperation Department uses the charity's 130 years of experience in skills and vocational education to aid newly-emergent and developing nations. Through its IC work, ORT acts as an ambassador for the Jewish people in vulnerable communities across the world.
The devastating Haiti earthquake of January 2010 affected an estimated 3 million people and left many thousands dead. Houses crumbled, trapping their occupants inside them, schools and public buildings collapsed. Following the immediate relief efforts, ORT visited Haiti to see how we might bring our experience to bear in rebuilding the country. ORT’s representatives noted that poor construction techniques had played a major role in the disaster (a much more powerful earthquake in Chile less than a month later caused substantially less damage and far fewer deaths). In a country with minimal regulation and low levels of literacy, many of those involved in the building trade were completely untrained and lack even the basic skills to make the structures they build safe.
ORT established a programme to train the small teams of builders responsible for the construction of the majority of Haiti’s middle-class and poorer neighbourhoods in anti-seismic building techniques.
The Joint Distribution Committee of American Jews has generously supported the first year of this project. ORT UK has sent a container of classroom equipment for the training centre in order to allow courses to begin, courtesy of the recycling firm Greener Solutions. But we still need both funds and basic building tools in order to allow the course to run for 5 years.