Flag Day in Haiti May 18 took on new significance this year as Haitians and friends from around the world reaffirmed their commitment to rebuild the country from the January 2010 earthquake. 

In this spirit, 100 Haitian Scientology Volunteer Ministers, joined by dozens of Volunteer Ministers from abroad, made the hour-long march from the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour to the city of Leogane Tuesday, May 18, waving the Haitian flag with its motto "unity and freedom" and carrying bright yellow banners proclaiming "Something can be done about it"-the motto of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers. 

In the village of Mariani on the outskirts of Leogane, Scientology Volunteer Ministers from Canada, Russia, the Ukraine, Mexico, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and the United States joined their Haitian colleagues in the Haitian national anthem while Max Beauvoir, Haiti's main voodoo leader, raised the Haitian flag at the Volunteer Ministers tent where volunteers provide free training and one-on-one help. 

Haitian Flag Day marks the day in 1803 when native leaders ripped the white field out of the French  "tri-color" flag, forming a symbol of unity in their decade-long fight against French oppression that kept 500,000 enslaved on the island. Eight months later, this became the official flag for the new nation of Haiti.

Despite the passion and determination of the Haitian people, which made Haiti the only nation ever formed of a successful slave revolt, even before the January earthquake Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  Some 300,000 Haitian children were orphaned or living without parents.  Of 182 nations on Earth Haiti ranked 125th in literacy and 158th in Gross Domestic Product per capita. 

These factors and a host of other social issues indicate it was not just an act of nature that devastated Haiti in January.  These issues are what the Scientology Volunteer Ministers address in their training. 

For example, there is no official building code in Haiti, and the city of Port-au-Prince was doomed to collapse.  Anne Kiremidjian, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, described it in these terms: "Even a moderate sized event would have toppled these buildings down.  This earthquake was a very large event and they had absolutely no chance of standing up." 
While Scientology Volunteer Ministers continue to do relief work and construction projects in Haiti hospitals, clinics, orphanages and refugee camps, they are working on a longer-range program to tackle the underlying social issues that brought Haiti to the brink of destruction and ensure the country emerges from this disaster a strong society whose people have the opportunity they deserve. 

Scientology Volunteer Ministers have opened 300 Volunteer Ministers groups in Haiti and are training government agencies, community and religious leaders, educators, students and scouts.  With so many traumatized, they begin with a seminar called "Assists for Injuries and Illnesses," containing technology developed by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard to handle the emotional and spiritual effects of loss and injury.  They follow up with training in study technology to increase literacy and the ability to apply one's education.  Then come workshops in the basics of organization, planning, and communication skills, to ensure the people of Haiti have the tools they need.

In developing the Scientology Volunteer Ministers program in 1976, L. Ron Hubbard wrote, "It is important to understand bad conditions don't just happen. The cultural decay we see around us isn't haphazard. It was caused. Unless one understands this he won't be able to defend himself or reach out into the society with effectiveness." To learn more about the courses and seminars visit the Scientology Volunteer Ministers website at www.volunteerministers.org/train