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Appeal for Bermudians to help Haiti

Residents work to salvage personal items from the site of a mudslide in rain-soaked Montrouis, Haiti(Photograph by Dieu Nalio Chery/AP)

Tropical Storm Erika caused substantial damage in Haiti last week, but a local orphanage, clinic and school have survived unscathed.

The Feed My Lambs Orphanage — founded by Bermudian philanthropist Phillip Rego in 2009 — houses 58 children and the school now caters to about 700 students in Montrouis.

“We were very fortunate,” said Mr Rego, who had been working on completing the volunteer accommodation at the orphanage before the storm hit.

“We contacted our people in Haiti and we are happy to say everybody’s okay. The majority of life loss were from people living in the mountains with lots of high water and mudslides.”

Mr Rego said the buildings on the compound had suffered no structural damage, although high water levels meant drains needed clearing.

But according to Mr Rego, the situation in Haiti is “so extreme” that Feed My Lambs Ministry is renewing its call for assistance to the public of Bermuda.

Mr Rego said that in Haiti, “the poorest country in the western Hemisphere”, “the poverty is so extreme and widespread that most Haitians have a hard time even enjoying one simple meal a day”.

“Bermudians have the wonderful opportunity to experience the joy of giving to help a small group of people reach their potential.”

Mr Rego said Bermudians can be proud that already “their sacrifices have brought about an immense change, not only for our children in the orphanage, but many in the local community and in the mountains”.

Since it was established, the orphanage has grown — with the help of many volunteers and sponsors — to include a school, library and health centre.

A water purification plant and solar panels were installed in 2014 and a new roof was put on the orphanage this year.

Another group of volunteers now plan to return to Haiti in October to prepare half an acre of land next to the orphanage so that it can be farmed.

Mr Rego said local farmer Tom Wadson will be travelling with them to plant crops, set up the irrigation system and to share his farming knowledge.

“Volunteers can expect to receive a real heros welcome,” Mr Rego said. “The children love the people that come to spend time with them.”

Mr Rego also hopes that people will consider sponsoring a child at the school.

He said it costs about $250 to provide them with clothes, books, backpacks and other necessary items for a year.

Marianne Herbert, who coordinates the school’s feeding programme, added: “There’s so much happening and so much still to do.

“The people are so poor — they have no proper shelter, no proper clothing, no food, no sanitation, no proper medical help.”

Ms Herbert added that it takes about $2.50 to feed a child rice and beans with a little meat and vegetables, as well as provide them with a drink, for a month.

“I’m trying to encourage people to have coin collections,” she said. “If enough people would do that we could fund the whole programme from donations people wouldn’t even miss.”

Ms Herbert, who has first-hand experience of how hunger is affecting children in Haiti, said children not eating for more than 24 hours at a time is “apparently pretty normal”.

“They’re painfully thin,” she said, adding that many eat “mud cakes” made out of clay and water because it gives them the “feeling of being full”.

The charity hopes to help by feeding the children three times a week starting this school year.

To help raise funds for this, as well as their other programmes, Feed My Lambs Ministry is about to launch a calender that tells the story behind the organisation’s work and the progress that has been made.

• For more information contact Linda Adderley at 536-3613 or e-mail her at regolinda@yahoo.com. Mr Rego can be reached at philrego58@gmail.com

• Donations can be made to Feed My Lambs Ministry through HSBC Bermuda account number 010876795001