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Voices / Letters from readers

Brattleboro community supports Haiti in a time of great need

Haiti is in the midst of a prolonged period of political unrest, which has resulted in a humanitarian crisis throughout the country. Several groups and individuals in our community have come together to provide help to Brattleboro’s sister community of Meyer, where Foyer Evangelique Orphanage (OFEU) is located.

The link between Brattleboro and OFEU began after the devastating 2010 earthquake, which left thousands of Haitian children orphaned. Local resident Mariam Diallo traveled to Haiti that year and spent six weeks volunteering at OFEU. Upon her return, she reached out to friends and colleagues, including local resident Sheila Humphreys, and together they formed the Haiti Orphanage Sponsorship Trust (HOST), a grassroots 501(c)3 organization that is a vehicle of compassion and support to the children living at OFEU.

Earlier this year, the Compassionate Brattleboro Committee invited Mariam, Sheila, and their Haitian counterpart, Pastor Duckens Janvier to apply for Meyer to become a sister community to Brattleboro, and sharing between the two communities has recently begun.

In a recent letter, Pastor Duckens described the grim situation in his community:

“Schools in Haiti have not functioned since September 15 because of insecurity and popular protests that have blocked the roads and demand the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise. These problems have aggravated my economic situation since my schools are closed, and I cannot help the children in my care with the income from my schools.

“We can only count on the generous friends of HOST in Vermont led by our brave and compassionate friends Mariam Diallo and Sheila Humphreys and their Brattleboro committee who help us to eat and find medical care to survive this humanitarian disaster that has plagued Haiti for weeks.

“Thanks to the generosity of several American friends of HOST who donated recently, we are trying to continue to support some of the church’s families and maintain food supply in our community.

“Donations have allowed the children at OFEU to eat 3 times a day despite the rate of inflation on food and drinking water. Now we have a sick child at OFEU who needs a lot of care but many government hospitals are not working because of lack of equipment, electricity, and medicine. Private hospitals are expensive but I have to bring this child there despite the cost in order to get him the health care he needs.

“My family continues to hope for the generosity of others to feed families with many starving children, children who are already malnourished, and others who are dying for lack of care.”

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church has been a longtime supporter of OFEU, and in response to Pastor Duckens’ letter, the church’s outreach committee has donated the remainder of their international budget for the year to helping the children and the surrounding community. Compassionate Brattleboro Committee members Peter and Marion Abell also shared the message at Centre Congregational Church, and several donations have been received from that church community as well.

It is currently unknown how long this political unrest will last, and people in our sister community of Meyer will continue to depend on compassionate support from the people of Brattleboro until this desperate situation is resolved.

To make a donation or request more information, please contact Sheila Humphreys at hostvermont@gmail.com, or visit orphelinatfoyerevangelique.org.

Sheila Humphreys
Brattleboro

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Originally published in The Commons issue #535 (Wednesday, November 6, 2019). This story appeared on page D2.

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