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Hope for Haiti

Lions were among the early responders to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and continue to help the Caribbean nation rebuild in the aftermath of the disaster.

Lions were among the early responders to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and continue to help the Caribbean nation rebuild in the aftermath of the disaster.

Hope for Haiti

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Touchstone Story #57

When a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January of 2010, Lions mobilized fast. Through the newly formed Lions Hope for Haiti, members around the world contributed their organizing skills and fundraising savvy to rush desperately needed emergency supplies to the Caribbean nation.

Within hours of the quake, staff at Lions Clubs International Foundation headquarters were fielding calls from Lions asking how they could help. Containers of clothes, fresh water and medicine from Lions in the neighboring Dominican Republic were among the very first waves of humanitarian aid to arrive.  

Lions Clubs International Foundation Chairperson Al Brandel and his wife Dr. Maureen Murphy headed a relief team of 40 Lions, arriving in Haiti about a week after the earthquake to distribute emergency supplies

“It brought tears to our eyes to witness the despair of the people,” Brandel said, “but Lions are committed to meeting their needs in the days and years ahead.” 

The death toll in Haiti eventually topped 230,000, with 300,000 injured and more than a million people homeless. All around the globe, Lions began raising millions of dollars to fund the relief effort.

Through their Swedish Lions tent program, Lions provided 200 tents to shelter the displaced.  In British Columbia, Canada, Lions donned their vests and set up collection sites in shopping malls and restaurants, raising US$126,000 for Haiti relief. In Bedford, New Hampshire, USA, Lions began collecting canes, crutches and wheelchairs to help injured Haitians. Members of the Aventura North Miami Beach Lions Club in Florida, USA, raised money for Haiti by collecting and recycling used ink cartridges and cell phones.

Even as Lions raced to help ease the immediate suffering caused by the quake, the association committed to solving long-term infrastructure problems that plague Haiti. The Lions of Belgium, along with Protos, a Belgian nongovernmental organization, supported an irrigation and agriculture project to increase food security and improve sanitation in the Belladere region of Haiti.

Over the next months, LCIF mobilized US$6 million to support earthquake relief. As time passed, Lions focused on reconstruction. The Lions of Germany and the German nongovernmental organization HELP built 600 homes for families living in tent cities. Lions constructed a national nursing school as a temporary site to train new nursing personnel until a permanent site could be constructed. At the Montfort Institute for the Deaf, funding from Lions in the United Kingdom and Ireland supported construction of a vocational training building. And Lions continue to address the need for clean water by installing water wells and pumps throughout five communities.

Haitians “thanked me many times for what the Lions of the world are doing to help them,” said Past International Director Eugenio Roman Jr. of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, who was among the first LCIF team to arrive in the aftermath of the disaster. “But we are there to help. That’s what Lions clubs and LCIF do.”

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