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Haiti One Year On: Reflections on Partnerships

Alexia Kelley, Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, shares reflections on an interfaith event marking the one-year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti.

Earlier this month, the American Jewish World Service (AJWS) and Catholic Relief Services co-hosted an interfaith event marking the one-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Members from different faith traditions and nonprofit organizations joined together to commemorate the lives lost and to re-commit to supporting the Haitian people as they rebuild their homes and communities. Comments from those who spoke at the event resonated with me, as I thought about the nature and role of partnerships in our local communities and around the world.

Nancy Dorsinville from the UN Office of the Special Envoy to Haiti spoke about Haitians and their future. She focused on the ongoing recovery efforts across all the regions and departments of Haiti.  She described how the outpouring of international support has been tremendous, as has the resolve of the Haitian people.  She also spoke honestly about the many needs that, one year later, are still unmet, and the work that remains to be done.

Father Juan Molina, OSST, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops shared reflections from the perspective of the Catholic community.  Catholic Relief Services has significantly expanded its operations in Haiti since the earthquake.  Fr. Molina stated that this event gave those attending the “opportunity to remember the victims of the earthquake and take stock of the work we have done this past year, but also to re-commit our efforts to help the Haitian people recover and shape their future.”

Aaron Dorfman, Vice President for Programs with the American Jewish World Service talked about two qualities of partnership: “Guided by Jewish tradition and informed by our experience over the past 25 years, AJWS believes that there are two qualities of post-disaster recovery and development that lead to successful outcomes: They take time, and they require a posture of humility toward and true partnership with those most affected.”

This is a good reminder for all of us in the work of partnership development and collaboration.  We are grateful for Aaron’s reminder and all of the speakers’ reflections, and for all of the Haitian and American nonprofit organizations who are contributing so much to Haiti’s recovery every day.

Supporting organizations included Church of the Brethren, Church World Service, Islamic Relief USA, Jesuit Refugee Service, Lutheran World Relief, Mennonite Central Committee, United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Haiti and JDC picture

Candles illuminate the Gold Room in the Rayburn House Office Building as attendees recognize the lives lost during the tragic 2010 earthquake in Haiti. (by Dahlia Rockowitz, American Jewish World Service.)

If you have questions or comments about this post, please email whpartnerships (at)

Alexia Kelley serves as the Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.