Following the tragic Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti, the AFT is pledging to work with our labor and education partners to assist Haiti on its road to recovery, which will be long and difficult.
"We are devastated about the tragic aftermath," says AFT president Randi Weingarten, who expressed heartfelt sympathy for the victims and their families, on behalf of the union's 1.4 million members. "Although the magnitude of the destruction is still unfolding, we know that tens of thousands have lost their lives, and many more have been injured, orphaned or separated from their families. Haiti now faces the enormous task of reconstructing communities that have been left without food, shelter, clean water, schools, healthcare, power and transportation.
"The education sector will be particularly hard hit in this catastrophe, measured not only by the loss of lives among teachers, students and staff but also by the destruction of entire school buildings and classrooms. Our colleagues in Haiti who are healthcare professionals and public sector workers also will face monumental challenges in saving lives and rebuilding infrastructure."
Weingarten praised President Obama for his administration's swift response and pledge of the United States' full support during this crisis. "We also want to express our gratitude and respect to all those working to provide much-needed humanitarian assistance," she says. "We thank our members here in the United States who have already begun to make donations and volunteer their time through local charities, businesses, community organizations and religious groups, to help and comfort those in need."
The AFT is encouraging its members to donate through the following:
- You can go to the Red Cross Web site and click on "donate now," or you can text "Haiti" to 90999 to send a $10 donation to the Red Cross through an effort backed by the U.S. State Department.
- You can help by donating to the United Way Worldwide Disaster Fund. (The AFT is on the board of trustees of the United Way.)
- Save the Children has launched an emergency relief effort to assist children and families through their Haiti Earthquake Children in Emergency Fund.
- The International Rescue Committee (IRC) has deployed its emergency response team to Haiti. You can donate to assist in their relief efforts.
- For information on volunteering, please visit the U.S. Agency for International Development.
This tragedy has reminded us once again that natural disasters, wherever they occur, have the power to touch us all," she says. "The AFT's leadership, local affiliates and members will work with our partners at Education International, Public Services International and the AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center to help Haitian communities rebuild for the future."
January 14, 2010