Fundraiser today for Haitian orphanage

A Haitian orphanage from which about 60 children have been adopted by Albertans is in need of a new home.

A Haitian orphanage from which about 60 children have been adopted by Albertans is in need of a new home.

Staff at Haiti Children’s Home, supported by the Alberta-based Haitian Children’s Aid Society, have been scrambling since the big two-floor building they work out of in Mirebalais, about 60 km northeast of Port-au-Prince, was left cracked and uninhabitable after January’s major earthquake.

That’s why Patricia Smith and daughter Melinda, who run the orphanage, are in Red Deer for a fundraising event today.

“Because of the living conditions, (the children) are more exposed to the elements and to insects,” Melinda said, explaining how the new circumstances have affected the children’s health.

“Also (there is) the mental stress the children feel from the earthquake, worrying about every little noise they hear,” added Patricia. About 45 orphans at Haiti Children’s Home were moved into the courtyard of the compound after the first earthquake on Jan. 12, but went back in shortly after. It wasn’t until an aftershock a week later that the building was visibly damaged, and the structure was condemned.

The children stayed outside in tents for about 30 days before workers from Canada and the Dominican Republic put together a much smaller, temporary structure on the grounds.

“It’s large enough for everyone to have a place to sleep, but they can’t really live in it, so they’re still in the daytime in the yard,” said Melinda. The plan now is to buy a new property and build new earthquake-resistant facilities away from the old site, a project that today’s fundraising will go towards.

Doors open at 5 p.m. for today’s fundraiser at CrossRoads Church in Red Deer. Supper is at 6 p.m. There will be silent and live auctions, and the Smiths will talk about their decades-long work in Haiti. Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for children (age four and under are free) and can be purchased by calling Doug Decksheimer at 403-350-3420.

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