The 2001 Gujarat Earthquake in India highlighted the need for involvement, leadership and ownership of communities in the recovery process. A multistakeholder, and multi-organization rehabilitation program was implemented in Patanka, one of the hardest hit villages in Gujarat. The lessons learned during the program are summarized in this paper. Firstly, interacting and building trust with the community, proper planning processes and budget and time flexibility were important initial considerations. Secondly, implementation was undertaken jointly with the community, along with capacity and confidence building processes. Sustainability was a major focus during implementation, so that the rehabilitation project became part of the development initiative. Finally, the most important aspect was the exit policy of the project team, leaving an institutional mechanism in the community that enabled it to serve its own needs.