Thursday, December 2, 2010

Volunteers Visit Orphanage

While in Haiti, the HOPE team has befriended one of their local Haitian drivers, an amazing and gentle man named Val Franklin. Val runs an orphanage for 51 children ranging from age two to high school age. The orphanage is in a little town called Bongnotte just outside of Leogane one of the hardest hit areas during the January 12th earthquake here in Haiti.

The orphanage is called Val’s Children’s Home Care. The building that used to be the orphanage was destroyed during the earthquake but thankfully none of the children or staff were injured. The orphanage not only provides the necessities for living such as food, clothing and shelter for these 51 children but the orphanage also has a school attached to it that educates over 300 children from surrounding areas. The original idea for the orphanage came to Val during a time of great adversity. During the elections in Haiti in the mid 1980’s Val was driving for a team of journalists when he was shot four times. He made an internal promise that if his life was spared and he were to walk again he would dedicate his life to children in need. The doors of the orphanage opened in 1988 and a dedicated woman named “Aunt” Imma has lived and worked at the orphanage caring for these children ever since. In order to support the orphanage Val has driven a car and taxi service ever since its inception.

While there the HOPE team had the great pleasure of listening to all the children sing a hand washing song that Val had taught them. The song was led by one of their schoolteachers who had grown up in Val’s orphanage and stayed in the village to teach. These children were happy and smiling and engaging despite all that they have been through. Val is an example of what’s great about Haiti. He loves his people, he loves his country and he wants to see the children of Haiti thrive. He has long-term goals of rebuilding the orphanage and rebuilding their school. Goals that these HOPE volunteers want to help him achieve. After a couple of weeks of being witness to the devastation the cholera epidemic has rained upon the youth of Haiti it was so refreshing to see the smiling faces at Val’s Children’s Home Care – smiling faces we will not soon forget!

Photos and story submitted by HOPE volunteer, Carrie Alexander, a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Johns Hopkins MPH student.

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