Hours after a massive earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, Claude Surena, a physician, turned his home into a makeshift triage center, sheltering more than 100 injured people.
Using the limited supplies of medicine and food that Rotarians had managed to collect, Surena, his wife, and other volunteers cared for victims, many of whom were in critical condition. The capital city of Port-au-Prince was damaged extensively, making communication almost impossible and resources scarce.
“It was difficult to witness so many people suffering and not have the capacity to give them the help they needed,” says Surena, president of the Haitian Medical Association. “I wanted to give as many people as I could some level of comfort.”
Three days after the quake, Haitian President René Préval appointed Surena the country’s coordinator of earthquake response, in charge of overseeing the recovery and redevelopment of the public and private health sectors.
A Rotarian since 1983, Surena is also head of District 7020’s Haiti Task Force, which works with local clubs on long-term recovery projects.
“Haitian Rotarians lost family and friends,” he says. “To see them still able to serve their neighbors and communities under those circumstances made me feel proud to be a Rotarian.”