The ONE Blog
Gift of Literacy Brings Hope and Inspiration to Haiti Orphanage
- November 14, 2017
On Jan. 12, 2010, a massive earthquake ravaged Haiti, claiming up to 316,000 lives and displacing more than 1.5 million people. Seven years later, the recovery has been a slow and excruciating process, with a string of devastating natural disasters besetting the island nation in the years following the earthquake.
Despite the setbacks, progress in rebuilding infrastructure, homes, and critical institutions, inches forward because of the extraordinarily strong spirit of the Haitian people. Nowhere is that truer than at Reveil Martinal Orphanage, located in a busy neighborhood of Port-Au Prince.
Charlucie Jaboin, a native of Haiti now living in New York City, founded the orphanage six years before the earthquake. Today, it’s home to twenty-six girls and a dedicated staff that cares for their safety, social, nutritional, and educational needs. But in the aftermath of the earthquake, the orphanage, like much of Haiti, was in perilous shape.
In a stroke of luck, emergency medical volunteers from Ukiah Valley Medical Center discovered the orphanage. The team was looking to help out beyond the immediate crisis and created a partnership that has now spanned seven years. Today, under the leadership and fundraising efforts of the non-profit Hearthstone Village, volunteers make regular trips to Haiti to visit with the girls, assess their needs and make sure they have access to critical nutrition and education support so that they don’t become causalities of the rampant slavery and prostitution that befall many orphaned children.
Education is, of course, a top priority. The girls’ head out each morning in a big pack to the local school, like so many children do around the world. It’s a routine that nourishes their education, but also a gives them a sense of normalcy that every child deserves. But it's back at home where this group of precocious school girls take charge of their future.
Tucked away in a room in the back of the house is a burgeoning library — it’s shelves filled with English and French language books, most donated through the work of Hearthstone Village. And on most days, you’ll find the charismatic “librarian”, 12-year-old Kentyna. A voracious reader, who loves a good romance novel, she is an inspiring young lady with a million dollar smile. When the library needed more organization, Kentyna stepped up to the job, implementing a system to categorize the books and enforce check-out procedures. She and a group of the older girls read to the younger kids. Big sisters take care of their little sisters. Living together, they’ve learned to care for each other like family. And with each book they read, their literacy grows and their prospects shine brighter.
As part of Kodak’s Print For Good initiative, the Reveil Martinal Orphanage is receiving $3,000 in funding to purchase new books. If the decision were solely up to the girls, it would skew heavily towards romance and adventure – at least according to a survey they recently conducted. While that wish may partially come true, the donation will also help purchase more rigorous content, like Encyclopedias, Atlas’, science and Haitian history books, and inspirational stories about courageous women.
“Against major adversity, these girls are flourishing today. The gift of literacy helps to ensure that they are armed with the skills and knowledge to blossom into intelligent and hopeful young people with the chance to become leaders of Haiti, instead of victims of its poverty.” Jen Dalton, Hearthstone Village Board Member.)
Personal donations in any amount are always needed to keep the children in school and fed nutritious meals. To learn more about the Reveil Martinal Orphanage and to find out how you can help, visit hearthstonevillageukiah.org.