Education International
Education International

Unionists care: AFT affiliate sends medical help to Haiti

published 21 January 2010 updated 21 January 2010

A dozen nurses, paramedics and other health professionals affiliated to the American Federation of Teachers left for Haiti on 20 January to provide much-needed medical assistance for the victims of the devastating earthquake.

The group will land in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and will help staff a hospital in Hinche, Haiti. The volunteers, who are travelling on their own vacation leave time, will use their luggage quota on the flight to take medical supplies.

“We have all been touched by this tragedy, and the generous and heartfelt response from our members—from healthcare professionals to educators—has been overwhelming,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten.

The American Federation of Teachers, one of EI’s larger member organisations, represents health professionals who work at Fletcher Allen Health Care, an alliance of the University of Vermont's medical and nursing schools. “We are fortunate in this country to have an incredible wealth of resources, and workers with significant experience. How could we not go?” asked Mari Cordes, RN, one of the coordinators of the trip.

More than 75 members of the AFT-affiliated Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals have volunteered to be part of the medical relief effort in Haiti. Plans are to dispatch multiple groups—possibly multiple times—over the course of the next few months.

EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen praised the commitment of the relief medical workers. “They are really acting in the true spirit of solidarity, demonstrating that unions are ready to make a significant contribution to the relief and, ultimately, rebuilding of Haiti,” he said.

Education International has set up an Urgent Action Appeal and a special fund to assist Haitian teachers and their families, and urges member organisations and concerned individuals to contribute. Donations can be transferred to the following account:

Education International “Fonds de Solidarité” ING Bank Rue du Trône, 14-16 1000 Brussels Account number: 310-1006170-75 IBAN: BE05 3101 0061 7075 SWIFT OR BIC CODE: BBRUBEBB