Dr. Surena, by Lynne Sladky, AP 1-17-2010
Dr. Surena, by Lynne Sladky, AP 1-17-2010

 Recently, it was my great privilege to meet two doctors from the battlefront of the relief effort following the Haiti earthquake.  My thanks to Reverend John Collier for coordinating this unique opportunity to provide help for Haitians.

Before the earthquake, John traveled to Haiti with Pure Water for the World, a group dedicated to installing simple, low-tech water filtering systems in countries with bad drinking water.  There, he met Dr. Claude Surena, a pediatrician and president of the Haiti Medical Society.

Then came the devastating Haiti earthquake.

Dr. Surena found himself in charge of the receipt and distribution of all relief supplies and the coordination of international doctors.  This quiet, soft-spoken man let the numbers and the pictures tell the story…

  • Hurricane season is approaching and 1.3 million people are still living in tents.
  • 65% of the economy is gone, together with 85% of the tax basis.
  • Pre-quake photos of government buildings, churches, schools and hotels contrast with post-quake photos of tons of rubble and debris.
  • An entire graduating class of nurses was killed.  Their loss to the medical profession is felt now and for years to come.

Saddest of all were the photos of children missing arms and legs.  Unfortunately, delayed medical care and lack of sanitary conditions caused rampant infections, leaving amputation as the only life-saving alternative.

Dr. Surena is in Houston this week, coordinating relief efforts with his colleagues in the Texas Medical Center, and he graciously agreed to speak at the West U Rotary Club.

Houston’s Can Do attitude shone out during the Katrina disaster.  Here’s hoping we can help our Haitian neighbors as well.  To contribute to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund sponsored by Rotary International, go to www.rotary.org/RIdocuments/en_pdf/haiti_earthquake_relief_daf_en.pdf.

Thanks!

Roger Martin