HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - An orphanage in Haiti with strong ties to Hampton Roads is getting ready for the possibility of an influx of children as the country continues to deal with the aftermath of an earthquake.
“This is the second time this summer that I’ve woken up to texts, and my immediate response was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.' This cannot be happening again. The first one was the assassination of the president,” said Ryan Kenrick, Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation board member.
Maison Fortune has headquarters out of Chesapeake and runs an orphanage in Haiti. Kenrick said the organization was significantly impacted back in 2010 when another earthquake hit.
“We were a much smaller organization prior to the earthquake in 2010, and almost overnight we doubled in size. Kids just showed up at our front steps with nowhere else to go,” said Kenrick.
He said they follow strict protocols and guidelines from the government on admitting children into their program.
“We work through the government channels and say, 'If you need help, we’re here,'” said Kenrick.
The orphanage is located in Hinche, which is roughly 200 miles from where the earthquake hit.
“In the moments after the earthquake happened, they were literally digging people out of the rubble by hand,” said Babs Zuhowski, executive director of the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation. “It's really horrible what's happening there.”
A group of people from the orphanage traveled to the devastated area to bring supplies, food, toys and support.
They say they’re anticipating an influx of children at their facility but emphasize there are important protocols to follow.
“People are still trying to clear out the rubble and people are still in shock, sleeping outside and some on the streets and waiting for help from Haiti and other parts of the world,” said Lefort Jean Louis, the founder and director of the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation.
“Whole communities have been wiped out… whole families have been lost. It’s just devastating,” said Kenrick.
For more information on the Maison Fortune Orphanage Foundation, click here.
The foundation is holding its second annual 757 Ball Race on Sept. 18 at the River Walk Community Pool from 5 to 8 p.m. at 701 River Walk Parkway in Chesapeake.