Charity hit by rising violence in Haiti
An orphanage and school in Haiti run by Bermudian philanthropist Phillip Rego has suffered through weeks of political unrest in the poverty-stricken country.
Mr Rego said yesterday: “Kids are getting robbed or molested and going with fear all the time.
“It’s difficult getting food and our university students, even our orphanage team, have difficulty getting cooking gas or charcoal — no one has got hurt, but it’s very difficult.”
The political crisis, driven by anger over the removal of Haiti’s president, Jovenal Moïse, has closed many of the Caribbean nation’s schools.
Clashes between supporters of the President and the Opposition have led to shortages of basic medical supplies for hospitals.
Mr Rego’s charity Feed My Lambs Ministry has run an orphanage, a school and a clinic that have grown in size since he founded the organisation in 2008.
The centre, based in Montrouis, is about 45 miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince, which has been engulfed by demonstrations and violence.
Mr Rego said: “It’s a small town where people really know us. But what we found after the 2010 earthquake is a lot of people and businesses moved to the outskirts. They’ve brought some baggage with them.”
He said villages in the mountains outside Montrouis, where many children come from to attend the charity’s school, are being overrun by gangs.
Mr Rego said: “These people have started taking over villages. Just last week, we had groups coming down to take crops. One of the property owners shot one of the gang members and that started an uprising.”
Houses and shops in Montrouis have been set alight and the orphanage was placed on lockdown.
Feed My Lambs has more than 700 children in school and 63 children in its orphanage.
Nineteen are also being paid through university and free medical care for the community is offered through its clinic.
Mr Rego said the charity’s buildings had been spared so far, but the area faced “a crisis with food”.
He added: “People are afraid to go out to the market. Sending in money has been really difficult.”
Mr Rego was speaking from Denver, Colorado, where he is organising donations of food.
He said that the charity would continue its work with the help of the generosity of Bermudians.
Mr Rego added: “When Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas, Bermudians immediately organised to help. Bermuda is unique and I couldn’t have built all this if I didn’t come from there.”
He hopes to be back in Haiti by the first week of December and said that he was “really praying for things on the island to slow down”.
Mr Rego added: “It’s like it comes in waves. It might calm down for two or three days and then it picks back up again.”
He said: “But people have to choose what path they want to take. You can choose to help, or not to help. I have chosen to try and make a difference.”
Mr Rego, who is 61, said Feed My Lambs wanted more volunteers.
“We’re going to need to do a changing of the guard. This responsibility has been my baby, but I would like to get some people to help.”
• For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the charity’s webpage at feedmylambsministry.org
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