by Ryan Hyland, Rotary International News - April 6, 2010

Rotarians in Haiti are laying the groundwork for the next phase of the recovery process: sustainable restoration projects that will enable long-term rehabilitation to begin.


The Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund, a donor advised fund set up by The Rotary Foundation, has raised US$1.3 million to help rebuild the country's infrastructure, which was shattered by the 12 January earthquake that killed up to 300,000 people and left 1.2 million more homeless.

"We are now at the crossroads as we move from immediate relief mode to sustainable development," says Past RI Director Barry Rassin, an account holder for the fund. "What is important is that we work with the needs defined by Haiti and always keep in mind that our help should strengthen their economy and not detract from it."

District 7020, which includes Haiti, has flown more than 100 planes filled with medical equipment, food, water, clothes, toys, and tents into the cities of Pignon and Port-de-Paix. The district's own account for recovery efforts has reached $400,000, which will be used for sustainable restoration projects.

While the Haiti Task Force overseeing recovery efforts is still formulating long-term plans, committee members have identified three areas of major need: rebuilding schools, providing prosthetic limbs to amputees, and equipping thousands with adequate shelter before the rainy season arrives.

The 17 Rotary clubs in Haiti are developing a plan to restore at least one school back to operating capacity with desks, books, supplies, and other necessities. Schools are a priority because in addition to educating children, they provide at least one meal a day and help keep the students occupied and out of tent cities.

The need for prosthetics is also great. An estimated 4,000 people have undergone amputations from earthquake-related injuries and require prosthetic limbs. District 7020 appointed a committee to coordinate with organizations interested in helping to provide prosthetics. The district is looking to set up three clinics at an estimated $50,000 each.

With the hurricane season approaching, district leaders have also appointed a committee to investigate appropriate ways to provide shelter than can withstand storms and earthquakes. The district has considered creating villages that would have all the necessary infrastructure, including water, sanitation facilities, and a clinic, school, and community center.

District leaders say they will provide more information to clubs and districts about how they can work with the donor advised fund as soon as specific details of the recovery plan are approved by the Haiti Task Force and cleared with the Haitian government. Those interested in applying for a grant from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund should complete a grant application form, which will be available on the District 7020 website.

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