Orphanage Director Plans Return To Haiti
While donations continue to pour into relief agencies following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, a Queens woman who runs an orphanage there says a lot more can be done to help the nation's orphans. NY1's CeFaan Kim filed the following report.
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It's been a long and trying week for 54-year-old Marie Blaise. The director of an orphanage for handicapped children in Port au Prince, Blaise managed to flee Haiti on Friday with her four children -- all of whom are U.S. citizens.
But despite pleas from her friends and family to remain in the U.S., Blaise is heading back to Haiti on Thursday. She says it was always her intent to go back, because there are 24 orphans in Haiti who need her help.
"They are sleeping on the street, they're sleeping outside the house," Blaise said.
Blaise spent 14 years in Queens working as a school bus driver, before building the House of Handicapped Children four years ago. It's a not-for-profit organization that has been mostly supported by the personal funds of its three directors, including Blaise.
In addition to the two dozen orphans, Blaise also left behind a dozen staff members. The two-story orphanage is now damaged and unable to house anyone.
The children are okay, but some have gotten sick from living outdoors for several days. The orphans range in age from one year to 15 years old.
"In Haiti when you are handicapped nobody care about you. Nobody see you. They don't think about no handicap in Haiti," Blaise said.
"We have children with severe seizures. We have kids without legs, we have kids without arms. They have a couple of kids who can't see. All the kids are completely handicapped," said Elsie Accilien of the Haitan Americans United for Progress.
Haitan Americans United for Progress has been helping the orphans for years. They are coming together once again in the face of tragedy as they try to collect money to help the children.
The funds collected will go toward the purchase of food, water and medicine.
For those who wish to make a cash donation, you can write a check out to "The House of Handicapped Children" or to "HAUP" -- Haitian Americans United for Progress.
Either way, the money will go directly to the orphanage, and a full report disclosing how the money was spent will be made available upon request.