Yesterday morning, BVI Rotary Club Presidents and Assistant District Governor of District 7020, Vance Lewis made a statement, thanking the BVI community for their current and continuing Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

Yesterday morning, BVI Rotary Club Presidents and Assistant District Governor of District 7020, Vance Lewis made a statement, thanking the BVI community for their current and continuing Haiti earthquake relief efforts.

The Assistant District Governor headed the conference with President of Rotary Club Sunrise, Monica Ramgeet, past President of Rotary Club of Tortola, Lloyd Black and President of Rotary Club of Road Town, Melvin Stoutt.

Mr. Lewis began by expressing his deep gratitude for the people of the Territory. "Rotarians in the BVI, Haiti and in our District 7020, thank the BVI community for its generous response to the earthquake that devastated the country in January," he said. "We have received many letters from various groups and persons around our district, expressing gratitude to the BVI public for their generosity displayed, when local Rotarians responded to the call for help following the magnitude 7.0 earthquake set on Haiti on January 12."

"The letters come after the BVI, staged an unprecedented fund raising effort to help the people of Haiti," he continued. "Over several weeks, people and businesses in the BVI donated an amount of $270,731 and also made in-kind contributions of medical supplies, food, and emergency shelter."

The Assistant District Governor explained, "Of the $270,000 plus raised, $93,790 has already been sent to Haiti. This includes $18,790 which went to buy medical supplies, tents and emergency equipment and to pay for fuel for several relief flights to Haiti in the days following the earthquake."

Mr. Lewis added, "It also includes $75,000 which has been contributed to Rotary's Donor Advised (DAF) for earthquake relief in Haiti. The DAF, which currently holds about $1.4 million, is looking to long-term rebuilding efforts and has agreed to focus in 3 main areas: rebuilding schools, rehabilitation efforts and long-term sustainable housing for the Haitian population. The remaining $177,000 will be sent to Haiti as the rebuilding and rehabilitation effort gains momentum."

"Rotary delivered more than 5 tons of supplies from the BVI and numerous containers of medical supplies, food, water, toys, clothes, bedding and tents. In addition, volunteer doctors, including 4 from the BVI, were transported by Rotary and $50,000 worth of seeds was sent to farmers to catch the growing season, also in an effort to restart the Agricultural Industry in Haiti," he expressed.

Current plans call for the rebuilding of some 30 schools throughout the country, allowing the children of Haiti to recommence their education said Mr. Lewis.

The Assistant District Governor added "Rotary is coordinating efforts on the ground in Haiti to provide artificial limbs to help the estimated 4,000 people, who had amputations during the earthquake aftermath. The final priority for Rotary District 7020 is to help some of the estimated 1.2 million homeless build sustainable housing," he said.

"One possibility being considered is to provide Rotary Villages which contain water, sanitation, a clinic, school, jobs and earthquake and hurricane proof housing. To this end, the local Rotary committee will be soon transferring a further $100,000 to the District Disaster Fund (DDF) to deal with some of the above identified priorities, medium term relief and health issues."

It has already been announced to the public, that on Saturday, May 8th, Rotary will join forces with Michael Gardener and the Good Samaritan Foundation to host a "Pirates with a Purpose" concert beginning at 4 p.m. at Myett's in Cane Garden Bay. Funds raised will go towards construction of a school in He a Vache, Haiti. He a Vache is reported to have endured the brunt of the exodus of people from areas which have been devastated.

"The BVI community can count on hearing more about Rotary and Haiti in the future, especially as the Rotary projects begin to take shape," the Assistant District Governor stated. "Haiti is a part of our Rotary 7020 District, and our efforts are geared to provide relief to affected areas, not only over the short term, but to have long term impact on the lives of our brothers and sisters in Haiti."

"However, we would not have been able to effect this without the generosity of the BVI community and for this, the entire Rotary family is eternally grateful," Mr. Lewis said. "The BVI public can rest assured that regular updates and continued accounting for the use of funds collected will be made via the media."

"In addition there were several local donors who provided services and supplies to us of which this project could not have been a success. I will read the list - Island Birds, Sky World, J. TV Channel 55, LIME, Marias, Village Cay Hotel and Marina, Bougainvillea Clinic, Eureka Medical Clinic, B & F Clinic, Peebles Hospital, Road Town Wholesale, One Mart Shopping Centre, U.P's Cineplex and Dwite & Paolo Flax of the Rock Cafe."

Mr. Lewis compared fund raisers held by the Rotary to the current Haiti relief: "We have had at least two additional fundraisers that I can immediately recollect. One was in the aftermath of the South-East Asia Tsunami - I think that was 2004 and the other was following hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S Gulf area. Both of those raised respectively, $75,000 (we used the leveraging ability Rotary has as an organisation to provide a final $125,000 of relief) and $45,000 for the Gulf areas. But the Haiti fundraiser has been by far the largest and most successful."

The Rotary superior explained why he believed the Haiti relief won such vast assistance saying, "I think it was successful because the disaster touched home. It hit the Caribbean, and our brothers and sisters within the Caribbean, and I believe people, realising that Haiti is the poorest country in the southern hemisphere, wanted to help. I think it touched people's hearts."

Mr. Lewis drew to a conclusion, advising, "Rotary, is a well-established international organisation, making it easy for us to assure the BVI community, that all the funds collected are being disseminated efficiently, effectively and to the right places by reliable people for those who are interested in how we use the money."

All presidents ended by making a gesture of personal thanks to the public and promised to keep the BVI community updated on the use of all proceeds to Haiti.

The Haiti relief effort from the BVI and other countries ensued after the earthquake shattered the country in January. It has spurred many groups to help rebuild the country and the BVI's consistent attention to this endeavour has been recognised as monumental.