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

Smokey Port painted by D.F. Gray during the eighth annual Paint Out. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni’s DRAW Gallery celebrates art online and in person

Fall in Love With Art! exhibit runs until Nov. 27

Mount Arrowsmith rises over the City of Port Alberni in its late summer splendour. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
More funding available through Alberni Valley Community Foundation

$30K available for charities responding to COVID-19; deadline is Oct. 30

Alberni District Secondary School principal Rob Souther, ADSS Breakfast Club Coordinator Melody Burton, Andrew Johns and employees William Dorr and Erika Salvino celebrate Johns’ donation of $5,000 to the breakfast club. (SONJA DRINKWATER/ Special to the AV News)
SCENE AND HEARD: Feeding Alberni Valley residents one dollar at a time

Local organizations benefit from charitable donations

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(File photo)
RCMP: Two men face charges in reported Parksville fatal hit-and-run

Investigation into man’s death began in August of 2019

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Most Read