Winnie Henry of Irish Hearts for Haiti
Friends of the Orphans will hold their 4th Annual Irish Hearts for Haiti Benefit Dance to benefit NPH Haiti. The event will take place April 7, 2013 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Boston Marriott Quincy and will feature live music, Irish dancing, raffles, silent auction, special guests and more.
Honorress on the night will be the late Larry Reynolds, Pat (Doc) Walsh and Steve & Mary Wessling. All are being recognized for donating their time and effort to benefit the Irish community and the Irish Hearts for Haiti event.
Friends of the Orphans and NPH are dedicated to transforming the lives of orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children by creating families for life, enabling children to transcend poverty and grow into caring, productive members of their communities.
For further information or to make a donation, please visit www.irishheartsforhaiti.com
Members of the Irish Hearts organization recently traveled to Haiti to witness first hand the day-to-day life. Winnie Henry recounts her experience in the poverty stricken country.
My Trip with Friends of the Orphans to NPH Haiti
Driving from the airport to Saint Damien’s Pediatric Hospital was something I will never forget. The poverty that I witnessed was beyond words. I’ve seen the pictures in the newspapers and magazines, but to actually see it, smell it and feel it is a very different story. We had stopped along the way and fathers and mothers were coming up to us holding their lifeless children in their arms. Just looking into their eyes and seeing the desperation, left me feeling
overwhelmed, helpless and heartbroken for them. As I looked around and saw how the Haitians have to live in such heart-breaking conditions, I felt overwhelmed to see the enormous task in front of us and wonder: How do you even begin to fix this? Seeing the children walking around, barely clothed with swollen bellies, along with the piles of garbage by the roadside, made me feel very unsettled to think that people have to live like this every day. Upon arrival at St. Damien’s, we were assigned a tent where we would be staying for the remainder of the trip.
Before the trip to Haiti, I had heard so much about Fr. Rick Frechette and was looking forward to meeting him. That first morning, as I entered the chapel, I was shocked to see lying on the floor inside the chapel were three bodies in body bags. Within a few minutes, a young man came along and placed two little babies beside them. Every morning Fr. Rick celebrates Holy Mass for the people that have died. At the end of the Mass, Fr. Rick asked our assistance in helping him carry the bodies out to a pickup truck just outside the chapel. He jumped up on the back of the truck all the while singing hymns as the truck pulled away. This was very emotional for all of us to witness. When Fr. Rick returned, he met with us and thanked us for all the help and support that the people in Boston were doing for NPH and Friends of the Orphans.
We continued on with our tour and throughout the trip, I saw all the programs that they have in place. I remember thinking, “these programs exist because of donors, volunteers and supporters of NPH. They are truly the fruit of generosity.” Every day at St. Damien’s, you see mothers arriving very early in the morning and taking a seat under a huge tent waiting all day with their sick child to be seen by a doctor. They are just like us, with the same concerns and well being for their children. I was amazed that with the resources they have received, they were all put to good use. The enormous containers used to ship supplies to Haiti at the time of the earthquake were being used as classrooms and housing for the children, until permanent housing could be completed.
We had a chance to visit the orphanage in Kenscoff, which is up the mountain away from Port a Prince. The money raised in Boston by Irish Hearts for Haiti also helps to support these 840 orphaned children. . The women we met who work at the orphanage are amazing. We witnessed many of the Haitian women working very hard as they washed by hand the laundry for all the children of the orphanage; it was like stepping back in time. While there, we also met up with Liz Lawne from Donegal and Gena Heragty from Co. Mayo, who both live there with the children. In my mind, Gena Heragty is a living saint who spends every day taking care of the disabled and special needs children of the orphanage. I could tell from their laughter how much the children love being around her.
Fr. Rick is the spiritual father of NPH and Friends of the Orphans. He is such an inspiration and I was so humbled to be in his presence during our visit to Haiti. We were all so blessed that we all had a chance to spend some time with him. He was so nice to all of us from the time we arrived to the time he said good bye to us, making special effort to follow us to the airport and make sure we got there safely.
Coming home I cried asking God, “How could this be? Why was I so fortunate to have been born in this country?” I will never forget this trip and I hope to return again. However, in the meantime, I will continue with God’s help to raise the funds needed to support the amazing people down in Haiti that are doing God’s work for the poor, orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children. I thank God every day that I had the opportunity to meet them. If I ever have a moment where fundraising for Friends of the Orphans year after year gets difficult, all I do is think of those living saints down in Haiti. I will do what I can to help them in their work. From witnessing how much the funds are helping and the incredible impact they are making with these resources, I feel so blessed that I belong to this wonderful family “Friends of the Orphans”.