Whereas I typically think of orphanages, in the US or abroad, as sad places where children are not cared for and get little love or attention, Rivers of Hope Orphanage was nicer than most hotels I've seen, let alone childcare centers, even as compared with the wealthiest of neighborhoods in the US. The orphanage, currently about four years old, has facilitated about twenty international adoptions since its inception, mostly to the US and Canada. Although there is local interest from parents and communities that would allow the orphanage to host hundreds of children at a time, they have consciously maintained a smaller size – anywhere from 10-18 children – in order to provide the best care possible to their children. And they really do view the orphans, both during their stays at the orphanage and once in their adoptive homes abroad, as their own. They maintain a 3:1 child-to-caretaker ratio at all times, and the average length of stay for a child is about two years. The costs to care for each child come to about $300 per month, some of which is paid by adoptive parents once they are secured, and part of which comes from much-appreciated donors like you.
We met many adorable babies during our visit on January 9, 2011. Rachel and Willem were kind enough to host us on a Sunday afternoon. Were Haitian adoption criteria not so stringent – parents must be married for a minimum of ten years, be at least thirty-five years old, and have no more than two children – I might have tried to file adoption papers right then and there. A special case, about which all GlobalGiving donors should feel particularly proud, is that of four-year-old Christopher. He has sickle cell anemia and is the oldest of the orphanage’s children. Had it not been for funds provided by GlobalGiving, Christopher would likely not be alive today, as the orphanage has used GlobalGiving donors’ funds to provide him with much-needed medication. He now has pending adoptive parents who will continue to care for him once he leaves Haiti. Although shy and admittedly small for his age, Christopher is absolutely adorable and a very lucky boy to have received such great care while at the Rivers of Hope Orphanage.
We have reached our funding goal but Rivers of Hope continues to need our help! Your donations have continued to provide Christopher, who has sickle-cell anemia, with $300 a month for his health maintenance, food, and clothing until he can join his forever family. We also support other children with child-specific donations for well-child care. We continue to supply medical supplies, food, clothing, bottles and other needed items. The Red Thread Promise does not ship goods to the orphanage because customs fees are steep (often exceeding the value of the items sent!), and we prefer to spend money locally in order to support the economy, but we have found that a few suitcases of goods carried in can make a big difference to the orphanage.
It takes $300 a month per child to care for each child. We continue to support Rivers of Hope for any medical / daily care needs of the children until they are matched with their forever families. And they ARE getting matched! Once matched, a child’s new family takes over the payments until the child can join his or her forever family. We are also setting aside some money for emergencies or unplanned doctor visits.
Currently there are seven boys and one girl at Rivers of Hope Orphanage. Many parents are asking that the orphanage take their children after the earthquake because food and jobs are that much harder to come by, and they are struggling to keep their children fed and healthy. The director has to turn many families away because she also has very limited resources.
We are waiting on one more approval on the Haiti side before he will be released to come to New Orleans for treatment for his sickle-cell disease at Tulane. Tulane’s donated support will see him through this year. After that we must begin the visa process again. Red Thread Promise volunteers saw Christopher in March and May. In March he was ill, but in May, he was a typical little 2-1/2 year old boy, running, jumping, and laughing. TRTP brought him medicine from the US to help prevent his Sickle Cell attacks.
We are so grateful to all of you who have reached out to us to see how you can help "our kids" in Haiti after the earthquake. We are particularly concerned about Christopher, the adorable two-year-old with sickle-cell disease. Previously, when Christopher would suffer a sickle-cell attack, the orphanage staff would take him to a hospital just outside Port au Prince for emergency treatments. We had tentatively arranged with Tulane University to bring Christopher to New Orleans for a more sustainable and preventative treatment plan, and were working out the details when the earthquake hit. If Christopher's treatment plan was unacceptable then, it is impossible now, and we have accelerated our plans to bring him to New Orleans. Please check in for more details in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, if you want to make a real difference in the life of one needy Haitian orphan, please consider donating a few dollars to cover his expenses. Tulane has put together an incredibly generous package but we still need your help to cover travel and other expenses.
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