The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit Haiti just before 5 p.m. on January 12, 2010, destroyed half the buildings in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, leaving 300,000 dead and 3 million injured or homeless.
The quake evoked an unprecedented outpouring of aid from around the world. In keeping with the Volunteer Minister purpose—to bring effective help wherever and whenever needed—Scientologists immediately chartered a plane from New York to transport hundreds of doctors, nurses and EMTs to the disaster zone. Volunteer Ministers accompanied them to provide support services for the medical teams. One of the first nongovernmental flights into Haiti, the aircraft also carried medical and hygiene supplies, food, water and clothing.
In subsequent weeks, Scientologists sponsored four more charter flights from New York, Los Angeles and Miami to transport additional medical personnel, supplies and Volunteer Minister support teams.
Church members also chartered a former Coast Guard vessel to carry hundreds of tonnes of medical supplies, equipment, vehicles, food, water and clothing. Volunteer Ministers distributed the cargo to hospitals, camps for the homeless and orphanages where they provided care and aid to the injured and displaced.
Some 350 Volunteer Ministers served in Haiti, coming from 22 nations to answer the call for help in the country. They delivered 260,000 pounds of emergency material and medical supplies and directly assisted more than 600,000 Haitians with physical and spiritual aid. They rapidly became a stable force not only for the people of Haiti, but for other relief and disaster response organisations serving there.
The Assistant Chief of Surgery for Project Medishare’s Haiti Relief Effort stated: “No matter what we asked Volunteer Ministers to do—it didn’t make any difference. They didn’t ask any questions. They just did it.”
Volunteer Ministers remain in Haiti, staffing a permanent Volunteer Minister centre where they have trained 75,000 Haitians in life improvement skills to empower them to rebuild their lives and their country.