Rego: Haiti orphanage is a ‘monument’ to our generosity
A brand new orphanage in Haiti will stand as a “monument” to the generosity of the Bermudian people with a new school to be built next.
Feed My Lambs charity organiser Phillip Rego said an 11-year-old Bermudian girl, Aliana King, gave him a new lease on life when she started raising money through her ‘1000 give $20’ charity effort to get $20,000 for the orphanage.
She started the campaign as part of her Bermuda Institute community service, and has begun raising thousands throughout the summer. Aliana’s video can be seen on YouTube under ‘Project 1000 give $20’.
“I believe she has collected $15,000,” said Mr Rego, adding that Aliana’s contribution has been an “incredible uplift” in his stressful work.
“This all started off like a little mom and pop grocery store, and it’s evolved so much,” he said. “The challenges we go through in Haiti, it does weather you, it’s very hard.
“Do I get frustrated? Yes, at times. You have to shrug it off. Some days are better than others, but God gives me strength when I don’t have it.”
The Bermuda-registered charity has finally received papers from the Haitian government enabling it to navigate the country’s notorious bureaucracy.
“This is a great milestone,” said Mr Rego, now on the Island for a flying visit to deal with the organisation’s accounts.
Getting through red tape is “like facing a mountain, a brick wall,” he said. “D&J Construction donated us a truck and it took three days just to get the tags for it.”
Donations have declined since an earthquake shattered the country’s infrastructure in January, 2010, leaving Feed My Lambs “way under budget”.
“In a way, the earthquake helped us and it hindered us,” said Mr Rego, who has spent almost three years working in Haiti.
“People gave generously to deal with the aftermath, but what we’re dealing with now is the everyday matters. It costs us $9,500 a month just to keep afloat.”
Nonetheless, the new orphanage in Montrouis should be finished in October, a year after work began. So far, Mr Rego said, the project has cost $110,000 to build.
He said: “This orphanage is a monument that Bermuda built, and it will always be there. It’s in the deeds. It’s always going to be an orphanage.
“All of that Bermuda money was given to help people of Haiti, and what we’ve built will always be there as a haven for them.”
The facility will be able to take 60 boys and girls, up from the 27 children in the present orphanage which must be vacated by the end of next month, when its lease expires.
As soon as the new building is complete, Mr Rego intends to purchase an adjacent property for $25,000, to build a new school.
The organisation is currently schooling 171; next year it will be able to provide 300 young Haitians with an education.
Mr Rego is also determined to obtain solar-generated electricity, and water purification for the orphanage and its community.
“We need solar panels for the orphanage the total cost of that is around $18,000.
“Right now we have no refrigeration, no lights, and we’re paying up to $500 a month on a generator that goes for just an hour or two a day.”
Feed My Lambs also continues to run a clinic in Port-au-Prince.
Spending so much time wrestling with Haiti’s entrenched challenges and poverty has taken its toll on Mr Rego. He set himself five years to spend in Haiti, which leaves more than two to go.
“My wife Maria helps keep me balanced,” he said.
He added: “It’s people like Aliana who keep me going.”
Useful websites: www.feedmylambsministry.org, www.youtube.com.