Rotary assists Haity earthquake victims

Rotary Club of St. Maarten during its last meeting discussed the efforts being made by Rotary to assist victims of the recent earthquake which hit Haiti.  
Rotary and ShelterBox ( ) are joining financial and logistical forces to provide temporary relief and shelter to the victims of the Haiti quake. 

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The Rotary Club of St Martin Nord is coordinating the project for all three islands of St Maarten/St Martin, St Barths and Anguilla.  
Because of the lack of access to the airport in Haiti, a ShelterBox technical group, landed in the Dominican Republic on Jan 14, and are heading toward Port au Prince using trucks and cars.
Meanwhile, Rotary with the help of the Red Cross (France) have received 200 ShelterBox in Chalon-Vatry (Champagne area) and this shipment will leave today Friday and is expected to land in Haiti early Saturday the 16th. There are also 224 ShelterBox in Curacao being transported to Haiti by the Dutch Navy 200 other ShelterBox are being sent from England while 75 ShelterBox Stocked in El Salvador are also on their way.
Rotarians are working hard to collect funds and Rotary Club of St. Barths must be commended for reaching their USD 100.000 target which translates into providing housing for 1000 people as each box can accommodate 10 people. Thus far 3300 ShelterBoxes have been made available providing accommodations and needed facilities to 33000 people.

Reports reaching our ADG Louis Wever reveal that Rotary is assisting the Red Cross with  getting their material into Haiti and delivered to their organizations. CNN also showed the delivery of the Shelterboxes, while Rotary is now also being asked to assist with the removal of bodies from destroyed houses.


Asked "How might Rotarians best respond" Barry Rassin, FACHE, RI (Rotary International) Director 2006-08, responded as follows:

 "You ask a great but very big question which, as you said, many are asking.  What is the best thing to do?  As each day comes our needs change and we are now going through some transition.  We have been providing medical supplies and teams up to now.  WE have sent in portable x-ray and have just located a sterilizer for the instruments to send in.  Food, water and shelter are ongoing.
Many Rotarians and clubs are donating Shelterboxes.  It is my understanding that 3,000 have already been commissioned. 
Locally we have divided the funds between immediate relief and long term rebuilding.  We have been paying for fuel for the 57 airplanes that have taken our supplies down to our Haitian Rotarians on the ground.  We have received significant donations from our medical suppliers in Nassau and then purchased antibiotics and other supplies to send down.  Tortola has two Rotarians with planes flying back and forth with supplies.  USVI has sent a ship of supplies.  St Maarten has 40,000 pounds of supplies on the way.  All these are our district helping our friends in Haiti.  We have a direct conduit to the head of medical activities, Dr. Claude Surena, who is a Rotarian.  He guides us as to the needs each day.
With the migration away from PAP the needs in all the other regions have grown enormously.  We have had our success going to airports outside of PAP where our Rotarians meet the planes and drive the supplies to where they are needed. 
Food, water and shelter will be needs for a while but now that "search and rescue" is officially over there will be an effort to clear areas to find bodies.  Control of disease is going better than expected as the tent communities are extremely close quarters but there is some clean water and they keep it clean.
I believe that our greatest needs will be going forward in helping them to rebuild their country.  Our DAF will primarily be used for that effort, I believe.  Our district fund may still provide some of the immediate relief but will go significantly to helping the rebuilding efforts.  Our funds in Nassau will probably continue going to immediate needs as we are doing the coordinating with the local Rotarians from here. 
The clubs in our district have already committed close to $1M to the cause which is incredible as many of our countries are poor.  Rotary has stood up to be counted here and are working side by side with our Rotarians in Haiti.  Of course, in our efforts to help rebuild the need for cash to spend in the right projects will be the greatest need.
I probably have not answered any of your questions yet.  Already many thousands of ShelterBoxes have been sent and many have been donated and we still don’t really have a good count so premature to ask for more in my opinion.  Perhaps later when the needs are more focused.
In my humble opinion clubs should donate to the DAF in order to be able to magnify the impact Rotary can make by pooling our resources and picking projects that will make a major difference in the years to come.  Also they should plan on doing their own projects when we are able to start putting the "big plan" together as to what the rebuilding needs are.  Meantime if they wish to contribute to immediate needs then we still need antibiotics, pain killers, antiseptics and bandages.  Down the road there will also be opportunities for hands on projects.
I can assure you that we are very close to the Haitian community and whatever we send in to help gets to the people who need it.  I know of the horror stories of the well intentioned who have sent items that have gone astray in one manner or another and they are probably true.  However, with the Haitian Task Force that we created for Rotary we have been able to control all items that we have sent through them and gotten the biggest success.  This has created a joint responsibility with the clubs for any TRF projects so that we have oversight of the activities.  It will always be of some concern but we are feeling very comfortable with this infrastructure we have put in place.   Our Caribbean Partnership  has also worked very well with enabling quick communications and assistance between clubs within zones 33 and 34.
Sorry to be so long but this is a major effort with many pieces to it.  Some of us have done nothing but focus on this effort since January 12 and will continue as long as it takes.  We need all the help we can get for as long as we can get it."

 "  has also worked very well with enabling quick communications and assistance between clubs within zones 33 and 34. 

The president of the United Haitian Community Dutch St. Maarten,  Mr. Castin Ironce informed members of the Rotary Club of St. Maarten about efforts being made by the organization to assist those affected by the earthquake. A fact mission to Haiti is also being organized to assist where possible and to assess the situation in order to determine what type of assistance can best be provided. 

Rotarians on St. Maarten/St.Martin, St. Barths and Anguilla continue with efforts to assist the victims of Haiti. The general public can be certain that we will continue knocking on their doors and that their charitable contributions will effectively and efficiently reach those in need.