Residents at the Baby Jesus of Prague Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, unload supplies purchased by West Shore volunteers after Hurricane Matthew. (Katherine Engqvist/News Gazette staff)

B.C. volunteers plan to step up in Haiti despite Trump’s alleged remarks

Support for Haitian orphans continues

During a week in which the world was talking about the racist comments allegedly made by U.S. President Donald Trump, in which he targeted the nation of Haiti, one Langford resident was speaking to the local Rotary Club about Haiti, and doing his best to help that island nation.

It was eight years ago almost to the day, that Langford Mayor Stew Young called then-Fire Chief Bob Beckett and put into motion an effort that would see Beckett and a team of firefighters and RCMP members from the West Shore travel to Haiti in the wake of the devastating 2010 earthquake.

When they arrived, they discovered the Baby Jesus of Prague Orphanage had been destroyed and the 50 children who had been housed there were in danger of returning to the streets and were sleeping on the ground without food or water.

Efforts were launched in Langford and more than $250,000 was raised to rebuild that orphanage and ensure the long-term sustainability of the facility.

The City continues to support that orphanage, funding the facility’s administrative costs, according to Beckett.

RELATED: On the Ground in Haiti: The team going down

“In 2013 a Quebec Provincial Police officer identified another orphanage, Divine Hands Orphanage, that was in similar need and we got to work on the project to rebuild and support that facility,” Beckett explained.

Both orphanages also received support from the Westshore Sunrise Rotary Club, which combined forces with another club last year to form the Rotary Club of West Shore.

“These are proud people who, despite more hardships than we can imagine, continue to live with dignity. You see parents who have virtually nothing, but when they send their children to school they are clean as a whistle and their clothes are spotless. They could teach us something about strength and dignity.”

Beckett’s current appeal is aimed at signing up 160 sponsors, willing to donate $25 a month for two years. He and other volunteers, including retired RCMP officer Bruce Brown, are hoping these funds will help to make the orphanage entirely self sufficient.

Similar efforts with the Baby Jesus of Prague Orphanage allowed for the development of an egg-laying project in which the orphanage keeps chickens and sells the eggs to locals, and a bakery where bread and buns are sold.

“I’m hoping that the Rotary Club of Westshore Sunrise and others will step up once again and make this important work possible,” Beckett said.

RELATED: On the Ground in Haiti: West Shore lends a hand

RELATED: On the Ground in Haiti: Established orphanage struggles to remain open

The work of which he speaks has been made all the more critical since Hurricane Matthew swept across the country in 2016.

Beckett noted Haiti has still not fully recovered from the devastation of the earthquake that destroyed so much of the country and that now the situation has been exacerbated by the fact that many aid organizations and the United Nations relief teams have largely pulled out.

“There are 52 children at the Divine Hands Orphanage and, without help, they face the possibility of being put out on the street. We can’t let that happen,” Beckett said.

As for Trump’s disparaging comments about Haitians, Beckett feels they are based in a lack of understanding of the bigger picture.

RELATED: On the Ground in Haiti: Serving the global community

RELATED: On the Ground in Haiti: Making community connections

“We help these people because, if we don’t, we all suffer the consequences. Desperate people do desperate things and that’s true of people everywhere. We all want security, a roof over their heads and a chance to feed and educate their children. That’s the same no matter what colour or religion. We have to look beyond our borders and consider that the world is one community.”

Anyone wishing to contribute to the orphanage project can reach out to the Rotary Club of West Shore for more information on how to get involved – portal.clubrunner.ca/1897.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

editor@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Students in Hope are ‘100 Days Smarter’

Coquihalla Elementary rang in 100 days of school in a concrete, yet creative manner

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Measles case confirmed within Fraser Health region

One case within Fraser Health is related to the outbreak in three Vancouver schools.

Harrison Festival to share the culture behind the music

Festival director Andy Hillhouse will be talking about nationalism in music, starting March 1

Risk of ‘deadly avalanches’ leads to warning for B.C.’s south coast

Weak layer of snow on Vancouver Island, Lower Mainland could trigger an avalanche

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Most Read