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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ladysmith principal mourns family killed during US protests

Jelks says he’s grateful for the outpouring of support from the community in the wake of this tragedy

Considerations made to keep Crofton drive-by birthday celebrations going

Trucks will tone it down or not use horns at all to bring some joy to kids and older folks

COVID-19 birthday drive-by celebrations snuffed out in Crofton

Bylaw officer visit with threats of a fine mean parade trucks taken off the road

Long-awaited opening for Chemainus Public Market

All components not up and running just yet, but will be soon

Void of summer events going to be felt in Chemainus

CBIA cancels Classics Car Show and Canada Day celebrations

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Most Read