Canadian orphanage in Haiti holding on

  • January 29, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - Close to 70 girls at a Catholic-run orphanage who survived Haiti’s devastating earthquake are sleeping on the streets of Port-au-Prince with little food and water and are still awaiting outside help since the disaster struck Jan. 12, says Frank Chauvin.

Chauvin, a retired police detective in Windsor, Ont., told The Catholic Register that three 18-year-old girls and one worker from his orphanage run by the non-profit organization Le Foyer des Filles de Dieu died after the 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti. But 67 girls at the orphanage and its director survived. At least 30 other children have joined them on the streets and are sharing their food and water.

Meanwhile, the orphanage building in the capital’s Delmas district sustained some damage that has made it unsafe for the girls to remain inside.

“I’m hurting because my hands are tied. I know the kids,” Chauvin told The Catholic Register from Windsor. “To them, I’m probably the only father they ever had.”

But he said many Canadians have been offering help. At least $30,000 has been donated to his charity and about a dozen people have inquired about adopting orphans. 

Chauvin, who adopted a boy from one of Haiti’s orphanages 22 years ago, said it’s not something he can help facilitate at this time. It’s an “impossibility” because the children don’t have birth certificates or necessary documents and would need parental consent if their parents are still alive. The adoption process would take a long time, he said.

Chauvin said his Haitian-born son, now 30, has adjusted well to life in Canada with Chauvin’s six sons and three daughters. He said his son is concerned about the rest of his family in Haiti.

“It still hurts him. His heart’s still in Haiti,” Chauvin said. 

Getting direct information about the orphanage has been difficult because the phone lines keep cutting in and out ever since the earthquake, he said.

Chauvin said the orphanage director informed him they were running out of food and water, although she was recently able to buy some food on the black market. An aid group had come by but when they saw that the children still had some food, the group said it would return later to help.

“All I can do is hope and pray right now that somebody’ll get to them,” Chauvin said.

Chauvin has been running an orphanage for girls aged three to 18 in Haiti’s capital for more than two decades.

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