January 12, 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. A local nurse called Genevievre found herself caring for 6000 terrified, people in the emergency camp at the Dadadou sports field in Port Au Prince. Her care was unconditional, her efforts almost super-human and she soon found herself in-charge of 74 children who had lost their parents. While living at the camp, donated tents and camp-beds made it possible for Genevievre to keep all those vulnerable children together and they soon became totally reliant on her care and support. She felt safe. They became “family”.
It was in the camp that Bob Craft, International Security Advisor for a large American NGO, discovered this tight-knit and devastated new family. “I arrived the day after the quake to help our Project staff, we helped dig graves, we secured provisions, I acquired a shot gun as looting and mayhem was everywhere. When a kind of order had returned I went to see how we could help in the old sports stadium.”
Genevievre had by this time already met lots of aid workers, kind hearted people who promised her help, but were unable to carry through their promises. She had also encountered men trying to lure children in her care away from her, lying to her, saying they were family when they were not. She was distrustful.
Bob recalled, “She did not trust me in the slightest when I said I could help her. But I did my best not to promise more than I knew I could give. I pulled in favours from military and Embassy contacts and went back a few days later with camp beds, tents, barbed wire. “
Slowly a trust developed and Bob quickly began to see why so many people had gravitated to Genevievre with these traumatised children. “She made a lot of sense in amongst the craziness of life in Port au Prince…people had seen her light shining before me. ….a strong compassionate woman.” Bob remembered.
What Bob had also seen was that all these lost children clung to her for comfort and she to them. They were a family. “Six weeks later I went back home to my own family. My wife and I decided that we should build the children and Genevievre a place to call home. Friends and family clubbed together, we purchased land, safely away from the town and registered the Mango Tree Home as a legal entity.” Since then Genevievre and volunteers have put their heart and soul into making this most basic of accommodation a home. Of the original 74 children, we managed to find living relatives and in some rare but lucky cases a surviving parent some months after the earthquake. As the years have gone by, and with age, some of the older teenagers have ventured out in to the world themselves. Now nineteen of the original earthquake orphans remain and Genevievre ‘s light still shines brightly in a poverty stricken country, an additional 18 orphaned children have been taken under her wing in recent months they arrive from the wider community, the last being a family of 5 orphaned siblings who whilst they have extended family, could not be accommodated or fed by any of their living relatives; to save them from being split up and scattered across Haiti, The Mango Tree Home has welcomed them into their family.
The Mango Tree Home is now at maximum capacity and we urgently need your help to feed, clothe and keep them together in their family home… a comfort that gives these abandoned and bereft children a secure life and immense solace… your donations can keep this large extended family together until they reach maturity and can provide for themselves.