CBS-TV to highlight Haiti work of UCC, Church World Service in Dec. 5 special

CBS-TV to highlight Haiti work of UCC, Church World Service in Dec. 5 special

November 28, 2010
Written by Daniel Hazard

Examining the faith community's ongoing assistance to survivors of last January's devastating earthquake in Haiti, the CBS Television Network will broadcast the religion special "Haiti: Religion's Response to Disaster" on Dec. 5.

After a 7.0 magnitude earthquake ravaged Haiti, some of the first responders were faith-based relief organizations. These groups continue to assist Haitian survivors.

The special chronicles faith-based groups' relief efforts begun immediately after the quake and the progress made in the past 10 months. Members of Church World Service (CWS), Catholic Relief Services, Jewish Distribution Committee and United Methodist Committee on Relief share stories about their work with viewers.

"It will be good for UCC members to watch the special to get a better insight into the continuing challenges in Haiti and also to know more about how faith-based organizations are committed to walking with the people of Haiti on the long, long journey to recovery and rebuilding," says Susan Sanders, minister and team leader of Global Sharing of Resources in the UCC's Wider Church Ministries.

"Church World Service and Global Ministries' relief and recovery initiatives in Haiti – all of which have been supported by the UCC with donations to our Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund – continue to be of critical importance," adds Sanders.

Burton Joseph, CWS Haiti program manager who was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, is featured in the program. He is shown helping CWS return children to school in new buildings; aiding people with disabilities; and expanding the agency's rural food co-op program to serve quake survivors migrating to Haiti's Artibonite area.

CWS – the primary agency through which the UCC gives support for relief and recovery efforts – has worked in Haiti since 1954, providing disaster relief and ongoing sustainable-development programs in collaboration with local partners.

Its current food-security program in Haiti's Artibonite and Northwest departments, started in 2005, helped families form farming cooperatives to mitigate the effects of chronic drought, poverty and food scarcity.

While religious relief organizations worked to help the living in the aftermath of the January earthquake, they often struggled to cope with the dying. Some groups have mourned 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, Rev. Sam Dickson and Rev. Clint Robb.

Melissa Crutchfield, UMCOR's assistant general secretary for International Disaster Response, talks about the Haitian people's struggle for survival and UMCOR's renewed efforts and commitment in Haiti.

Gideon Herscher, Haiti relief director for the Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC),  talks about the rehabilitation center the JDC has opened to serve amputees and injured victims.
With help from the JDC, Jewish refugees from Central Europe immigrated to Haiti in 1938, an action that saved them from the Holocaust. 

Also featured on the Dec. 5 broadcast is Charisse Classman, a Washington-based legislative assistant for Catholic Relief Services (CRS), which has been committed to working in Haiti since Hurricane Hazel struck in 1954.

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.

For more information on the UCC's Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, or to make a donation, please log on to

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