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Haiti’s Heroes

In Non Profit on January 15, 2010 at 4:13 pm

“Never stop being courageous.”

These were the last words I wrote to my sponsored child, Anne-Cherley Amilcar, in a letter I composed after hearing about the earthquake in Haiti. Anne-Cherely is Haitian and although she lives nearly 30 miles north of Port-au-Prince, we continue to wait with bated breath for word of her safety. The entire country, already in peril from abject poverty, has been hurled even further into a miserable horror that threatens every human being within its boundaries. Though all are vulnerable to great suffering, the greatest vulnerability belongs to the Haitian children. Prior to the earthquake, the number of orphaned children in Haiti was estimated at nearly 450,000. It is unconscionable to even try to comtemplate an increase in such a number, but the post-quake increase is certain.

Fortunately, there are heroic organizations, such as Compassion International, who have been attempting to assist the needs of Haiti’s impoverished children over the course of many years and have done so with much success. It was through C.I. that we found our Anne-Cherley and it is through them that we will continue to offer our support. They are going to need it. There will be childhood development centers that will need to be rebuilt and sadly, staff and volunteer positions that will need to be refilled. For those who are longing to offer some kind of support to Haiti, this is definitely a trustworthy and nobel organization to consider.

Of equal standing as a highly effective and reputable outreach to Haitian orphans is a non-profit called Danita’s Children. The organization began over ten years ago when Danita Estrella spontaneously traveled to Haiti with nothing more than a strong sense that she was supposed to go there to offer help. She had no idea how to implement her desire but she knew she was purposed to go. After a year of wandering from volunteer position to volunteer position, she was still unsettled. There was a haunting sense that she was not walking out the level of service that was rooted in her heart.

But the ambiguity of her journey vanished on a day emblazened in her memory forever.

As the story goes, she was sitting at a café table eating her food when she suddenly felt the imploring stare of an underfed boy fall upon her. She looked over and lifted her hand to signal that she saw his need and wanted him to wait for her. Her intent was to order him food and then take it to him, however, there was a man who saw this interchange and became enraged at the boy. He took a whip and began to strike the child. Danita, busy ordering the food, heard his screams and instincively shot up from the table and ran to the child’s rescue. She grabbed the brutal man by his collar and shook him with all her might and then ran to the boy, picked him up, comforted him and bought him food to eat. It was then that she knew her purpose. She decided right then and there that she would open an orphanage for abandoned children.

What began with a small plate of food for a hungry frightened child has developed into three homes that house 75 orphans, a school that provides education to nearly 600 children and a meal program that feeds 17,000 each month. As glorious as all that is, Danita has refused to rest. Right now, her organization is in the midst of building their very first children’s medical center. It is without a doubt that when that mission is completed, Danita will continue to create even more paths of provision for Haiti’s children.

Danita is my hero and it is because of people like her, those who have committed themselves to serving the needs of Haiti’s most vulnerable regardless of personal cost, it is because of such people that I was able to write words of strength to Anne-Cherley. Heroes have great courage and I pray for our little girl to hold onto hers.

The courageous will find each other.


  1. What an outstanding story, it tells of the poverty, sadness and wretched conditions in Haiti but it has hope, everlasting hope in it too and real life heroes, Danita sounds like a wonderful person—a rare true giver.

    I was wondering why Haiti is so impoverished, geographically where they are situated and given it’s natural resources it should by every right be a flourishing economy. I found these two articles from a google search that shed some light on the plight of Haiti.
    The first one you will have to copy and paste into your browser.

    Classic example of how America doesn’t have friends we have interest because it appears that we haven’t acted in the best interest of the Haitian people except on a superficial level and the real goal is to protect business and banking interest of both the US and European countries.

  2. Sad but true, Forest! When I was in college a woman who had survived being brutally wounded and left for dead came to speak to us about what she had suffered and our government’s role in it. Truly horrifying.

    But, as always, there is hope, as Cara so beautifully shared with us. This is what I love most about Christianity–we can move mountains, even the mountains of poverty and violence, with an active faith.

    Thank you so much for sharing these organizations with us, Cara!

  3. Kim and Cara,

    It’s been awhile since I last visited your blog. Looks like it’s coming along very nicely.

    The Haiti earthquake focused America’s attention on the needs of a people who have long been impoverished. For several weeks we watched the reports on TV and we donated money to the rescue and recovery effort. Now our attention is being diffused among many other stories … as it so often is.

    And just as I am writing this, there was an appeal from Bill Clinton and George Bush on FOX News to donate to the relief fund. Good to see those two teaming up to help in this effort. It needs to continue.

    I feel for the little orphans of Haiti. It is so sad.

    Good luck to you two on your joint effort!


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