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Haiti six months later: Hope at an orphanage

July 14, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
[Editor's note: David Ono from ABC7 Eyewitness News recently returned to Haiti to see what progress has been made six months after the earthquake. Ono's reports reveal a side to Haiti that very few people are talking about. Watch what happens when Ono returns to Haiti, all week at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Eyewitness News.]

Immediately after January's 7.0-magnitude earthquake, relief came pouring into Haiti. Getting help to orphanages was a top priority. But with the passing of time, they, like many others in Haiti, have been left to fend for themselves. Now many orphanages are in dire need.

Upon my return to Haiti, I heard about an orphanage outside of Port-au-Prince. We specifically sought out this orphanage after hearing about it from a Redlands-based group called Luv for Haiti. It's a small charity, just getting started, and they're partnering with a church in Riverside, Calif.

The lonely, the abandoned, the forgotten: Orphans whose parents have died in the earthquake, from disease, or children simply left behind because their parents can't afford to care for them.

There are 36 orphans in the New Vision Fellowship for Children. Upon our arrival, we are greeted with a song.

I meet each of them. Most are painfully shy, but so well-behaved.

Mary Souveraen runs the place. In her broken English she admits she is exhausted and barely hanging on. As she shows me around I see the place is severely damaged.

The town of Leogane sits 20 miles outside of Port-au-Prince. It's ground zero, the epicenter of the earthquake.

Believe it or not, Mary is one of the lucky ones. One house next door to her orphanage has been flattened to a pile of rubble and rebar. It was a two-story building. Most of the homes in the neighborhood have been ruined.

One child in the orphanage died in the quake -- a small number considering one out of every four people in this town did not survive.

For Mary, it's a loss she still struggles with.

She shows me the roof of her orphanage -- before the earthquake, it was the second floor. The church and the school areas of the orphanage were lost.

No electricity, no running water, and it's very hot. It's still morning and the heat is already unbearable.

Directly below is where the children sleep. Cracked concrete and cinderblock are directly overhead. How do you sleep restfully under this?

The orphanage's kitchen has been severely damaged, and cooking conditions have reduced to the primitive: a pot on top of some rocks, charcoal and sticks. The sink is gone. The roof is gone, the outer walls are cracked and buckled. It's not much more than a cave on the verge of falling down.

Mary shows me their food supplies: sacks of white rice and beans from the U.S. There are only two bags left.

Mary tells me she needs everything: food, clothes, medicine, even beds. Some of the children have to sleep outdoors on torn cots.

Even Mary's shoes had huge holes in them.

As sad as their state is, it's refreshing to see the children are still capable of being kids. The boys love to play soccer, and the girls love to dance. Once they became comfortable with our cameras, they let go -- a fleeting moment of happiness in a place that has seen so much despair.

For a list of relief organizations working in Haiti and how you can donate: Haiti Earthquake Six Months Later: Where and How to Donate

Thursday, July 15, 11 p.m.: A look at the dire state of health care in Haiti. We follow a Southern California surgeon who is a native of Haiti as he returns to help the children left devastated by the earthquake.


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