Two years later, 50 orphans still living in tents after earthquake destroyed orphanage

By January 12, 2012

Haiti (MNN) — It was two years ago today that a massive 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti. But after 24 months in recovery, over half a million people are still living in tents and on the streets.

Fifty of those individuals happen to be orphaned children. The Foundation Foyer des Enfants Demunies orphanage, run by a pastor and his church in Bon Repos, collapsed during the earthquake. Ever since then, the 50 children who called the orphanage home have been living in tents.

Children who have already suffered the loss of one or both parents have been sleeping on dirt floors in temporary shelters for well over 700 days now.

"They're still living on tents on the ground in some very sub-standard conditions," says Ron Gunter, Vice President for International Childcare at Orphan's Heart. "Our priority is to get them out of the tents as soon as possible."

When other plans to help Haitian orphans fell through following the earthquake, Orphan's Heart discovered the Foundation Foyer des Enfants Demunies. The orphanage had been struggling since the quake, without any outside help from anyone.

Orphan's Heart was eventually able to come alongside the orphanage and procure property, and they have since been working on resurrecting a building. They are currently in the first phase.

"Our goal is to get our first phase done by April or May, before the rainy season starts, so we can at least get the children off the ground," says Gunter. "The first phase will be able to house 30 children. The complete orphanage will house 90 children and will have a school, a cafeteria, and a storage area for the children."

Orphan's Heart currently has volunteers working on the wall around the property and constructing a home that will eventually become the pastor's living quarters. However, until the orphanage is completed, the structure will serve as storage as well as a place for some future mission teams to stay while construction is in process.

Volunteer teams are scheduled to come down to work on the orphanage through July. Gunter is confident that the building process will not take long, but the hurdle thus far is a lack of resources.

"We are calculating that with everything that we're doing, we're looking at probably in the neighborhood of $450,000-$500,000 for the entire project," says Gunter. It's a fairly small price to pay for buying property, a 90-person orphanage, and a school, but more funding to cover those expenses is needed.

When the orphanage is completed, it will provide a loving, Christ-centered home for dozens of children. But more than that, it will–and already has–provide outreach to the entire community. As Gunter points out, when an activity begins in Haiti–even if it's part of a Vacation Bible School, kids from all over come to join in.

On this two-year anniversary of an earthquake that instilled both devastation as well as a new hope in the Gospel, consider supporting the ongoing Kingdom work in Haiti. Click here to help Orphan's Heart in their endeavor.

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