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Local woman on a mission to provide beds for children in Haiti

FPS staff report

Local woman on a mission to provide beds for children in Haiti FPS staff report March 18, 2014   Life changing is how Janet Smith describes her recent trip to Pignon, Haiti.
HAITI HELPERS. Janet Smith and Dr. Jim Birong enjoy a visit with children in the orphanage Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Carrollton has been helping to support.

Life changing is how Janet Smith describes her recent trip to Pignon, Haiti.

Smith recently made a trip to Haiti with fellow parishioner, Dr. Jim Birong.

She heard about Dr. Birong’s mission trips for years and wanted to experience it first hand. “You hear of stories of the poverty but the adjunct poverty was more than I expected” she said. She described the lack of basic human needs, “There is no running water or electricity within Pignon. The electrical grid was recently completed but the average family has no money to be connected.”

Her sadness for the Haitian people was soon replaced with amazement when she walked the streets of Pignon and saw the contentment of the Haitian people.  If you walk to the center of town in the morning, you can hear the voices and laughter as buckets are filled with water from a well and carried on the heads of women as children chase each other through the street.

“When I say, I walked the streets,” she said, “I literally mean ‘walk in the streets’.” The few cars on the roads were driven by missionaries and the streets are normally filled with bicycles, motorcycles, animals and people. Part of the city has recently added paved roads but residents are not quite sure how to handle them yet. With no traffic lights or stop signs, it is mayhem on the roads so there is definitely a need to be alert.”

The Carrollton Haitian teams travel at least once a year to work on projects at the hospital and dental clinic in Pignon.  Dr. Birong set up the dental clinic many years ago and has trained several ambitious locals to run the clinic. It has been a successful endeavor and this May when the team travels back to Haiti; they will work on expanding the clinic with new equipment that has been donated to the team.

The last day they were in Haiti, Dr. Birong took Smith to the orphanage Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church has been helping support in Haiti.  The husband and wife who started taking in a few children has grown to an orphanage of over 50 children in addition to the four children of their own, one of which is severely handicapped. The children are normally “dropped off” during the dark of night by parents who cannot afford to feed and care for their children.

They know in the orphanage, the children will receive at least one meal a day.  “I looked around and saw such a great need in this place,” Smith said. “The children have almost nothing. No toys, no running water or electricity, not enough clothes or education. I could go on and on. But the one thing that touched me the most was that half of the children slept on the concrete floor without blankets.”

She described going back to the house where the missionaries were staying and looking around her private room with two double beds that were empty except for her that night. She was thinking she could provide beds for at least five more children in the beds for one night.

Walking into her home the next day she was struck by all the “things” she was blessed with and immediately started planning. “I was going to get beds for those kids!” she vowed. She started talking to everyone she came into contact with and has not stopped. 

The outpouring of support has been incredible, but so far she has not reached the goal of 15 new bunk beds with mattress for the children.

Anyone wishing to help the abandoned children of Haiti by helping them get a bed to sleep in every night can contact Smith at Community Title Agency, 1115 Canton Rd NW Ste. A1, Carrollton, OH 44615 or 330-627-2293.

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