Westmoreland Rotarians spearhead parish's Haiti earthquake relief effortsThursday, August 26, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
NEGRIL, Westmoreland — Two Rotary clubs in Westmoreland and the Negril Chamber of Commerce last weekend dispatched a wide variety of disaster relief items from the parish to assist the people of the Caribbean island of Haiti in the wake of the devastating 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck the south-western part of the country earlier this month.
According to Haitian Government officials, since the earthquake on August 14, at least 2,200 people have died, over 12,000 injured and at least 130,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed.
Assistant District Governor Elaine Allen Bradley, who is in charge of five Rotary clubs in Hanover, Westmoreland and Black River in St Elizabeth, argued that amidst Jamaica's crisis with the novel coronavirus pandemic, “we are still helping people.”
“What took place in Haiti is very tragic because not just the earthquake which is so horrendous to see, but they were battered by rain as well,” said Allen Bradley.
“We saw the devastation in Haiti and we (Rotary clubs in Jamaica) decided that we must do something to help and hence we got together and organised this [relief supplies],” stated Allen Bradley.
Apart from the Rotary clubs of Savanna-la-Mar and Negril and the Negril Chamber of Commerce, various individuals and companies also combined to purchase and donate food, toiletries, clothing, face masks, gloves, medical supplies and other items to the French-speaking Caribbean island.
These include two Catholic Church rectors in Negril, the proprietors of Hammond's Pastry Place, Rayon Hotel, Charela Inn Hotel, Travellers Beach Resort, and Riverside Pharmacy in Negril.
The items were packaged in Negril, then transported by Las-Bee Producers Ltd to a storage facility in Kingston on Saturday. The Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) is responsible for shipping off the items to the island at a later date.
In 2010, there was a similar seven-magnitude earthquake that destroyed a section of Haiti, killing more than 200,000 people. At that time help was also provided by Jamaica and other nations. However, there were reports of dissatisfaction with the distribution of those relief items.
Now, Allen Bradley said Jamaica has learnt from the mistakes of 2010 and as such, the items will not be sent to Government warehouses in Haiti, but to Rotarians on the ground in the impoverished country, who will be responsible for delivering the items to people who are in need.
“One of the criteria when we had assistant governors' meeting was that we have learned lessons from their [Haiti] 2010 earthquake,” stated the assistant governor, adding that “some things were thrown away, some things did not reach people and we have learned from that, so, we are now not wanting to repeat that.”
She noted that the donation forms part of the Rotary clubs in Jamaica assistance to the people of Haiti.