Special Message from District Governor Haresh L. Ramchandani
Friends, I know we have all been watching, and in some cases, been directly affected as Hurricane Matthew has made a devastating impact across Rotary District 7020. We are grateful that most of us were spared, however as we know South Western Haiti and the Bahamas took direct hits.
A Hurricane Matthew Disaster Committee headed by District Disaster Chair Jacqueline Heyliger, a disaster planning professional based in the USVI, and a number of district leaders have met, assessed the needs currently coming out of Haiti, and have decided on 2 components. One – An Immediate Response for Direct Relief needs and Two – a more medium to long term approach.
For the its immediate needs we will be focusing around Les Cayes, Jeremie and Aquin in Haiti. The Rotary Club of Les Cayes, a strong Rotary Club, along with DGE Robert, and many of our Rotary leaders in Haiti, will lead the efforts. Their assessment is unfortunately a bleak one: Many, many homes have lost their roofs leaving thousands of families unprotected and there has been a serious outbreak of cholera, putting further pressure on the already strained resources. They advise that the community’s immediate needs are materials (metal sheeting), to repair the roofs and water filters to provide clean drinking water. Fortunately, both are still available for purchase on the ground in Haiti, however there are naturally supply and demand issues which will affect cost, so it is essential that funds are made available to buy these items immediately. Currently, a sheet of metal roofing costs US$4 and approximately USD$200 to put a new roof on, and a filter plus bucket, which can provide just under 300 gallons of clean water per day, should cost around US$50-60.
So if you want to help with immediate relief we are asking you to make your contribution to the District Disaster Relief Account, the information for which is on 7020.org and will be sent to you via email as well. As a District we are immediately sending USD$27,500 approximately so it can help the Rotarians on the ground to get this relief to those affected.
I’m aware there are those that want to give in Kind, such as food & clothing. Now whilst we will accept these things there is specific way it needs to be sent to Haiti. That outline document is also available at 7020.org and will be circulated via email. But I must advise you that the sentiments on the ground is that most items are still available there, and the last thing we want to do is kill the local economy. One of Rotary’s areas of focus is Economic and Community Development, and sending items readily available there is doing the exact opposite of that.
Now, if you wish to help in the more medium to long term effort, you can still contribute to the District Disaster Fund and specify how wish to have the funds used, but also we have setup a Donor Advised Fund at The Rotary Foundation, and we are also pursuing a Global Grant based on the needs that the Rotarians in Haiti are evaluating currently. The Information for the Donor Advised Fund at TRF is also available at 7020.org and will be sent via email as well.
I am grateful for all those who have offered to help. This is indeed a time for us to come together and showcase that Rotary truly serves humanity. Thank you for all you’re doing and will continue to do as we Champion the cause to help those affected in their time of need.
Haresh L. Ramchandani
District Governor 2016 – 2017