Who’s There: Deborah Hage
SILVERTHORNE – In a poor neighborhood in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Deborah Hage watched as children arrived at Hope House, an orphanage for 90 children. Many lost their families to gunfire or disease in the city. Others were abandoned by parents who could no longer feed their families.The orphanage is the childrens’ only chance at life, and even then, it is not easy.More than half of the children sleep on concrete floors. There is little food, and no utensils, so children eat with their hands. They have few clothes. Shoes are at a premium.Toilets are overflowing. Showers are outdoor spigots.
The classrooms consist of little more than benches and scratched chalkboards. The walls are empty. There are no books and little paper. The playground doubles as the street.The neighborhood of Drouillard – a loose collection of dirt walkways, open sewage pits and tin shacks – is one of the better ones in Haiti.”But we need to start somewhere,” Hage said.The Silverthorne woman traveled to Haiti three times last year to determine the needs of the orphanage. She returned and mobilized a group from Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon and has been collecting items to ship to Hope House.”It went really well,” Hage said of the collection efforts. “Everybody was extraordinarily generous.”
The Summit County Rotary submitted a grant for $23,000 to purchase beds, shelves, kitchen equipment and school supplies, and the high school French honors class has collected items for 40 hygiene boxes and 50 backpacks.”One student, his profile of the student he wanted to help said he wanted to go into computers,” said Bethany Lambrecht, the high school French teacher. “He scrounged around here and found a computer, rebuilt it and packed it all up.”She said the students donate money each year to a cause, but this is different because they know where the items are going.The school district donated used equipment from the old Silverthorne Elementary School, the Day’s Inn donated dressers, mirrors and tables; the Holiday Inn donated bedding and mattresses; and Ace Hardware contributed lockers. Individuals have donated clothing, shoes, sofas and chairs, among other items.
A group of nuns in Independence, Mo., is collecting the goods from Summit County and elsewhere in the country and packing them for shipping.Members of Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church have begun a drive to obtain sponsorships for the children. Sponsorship money – $30 a month – has purchased a stove, Christmas presents, dining room tables, paint and food. Other funds will pay to ship the container to Haiti.Once everything is gathered, a work force will depart – probably in May – to Haiti to assemble beds, empty the container, paint, lay tile and pour cement, among other chores.”This trip is going to tell us a lot more about what is needed there for those poor kids,” said Frank Bumpus, who is gathering items for the container.”This is one way to help a very poor, French-speaking country,” Lambrecht said. “It shows that a lot of groups together can make a difference.”
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