Don your glad rags to deliver glitz for orphans in Haiti
An event in the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel on Friday hopes to raise much-needed funds for a Cork-based charity, the Haiti Orphanage Project ESPWA (HOPE).
The charity works to support vulnerable children and the organisations caring for them in the country still feeling the effects of a devastating earthquake in 2010.
One of the co-founders, taxi driver John O’Connell said he originally went out with Haven to build houses in Haiti, in 2010, and when we got back two of us from Cork got and said we will do something for kids,” he said. “John Cronin and myself got some people together and we formed our own charity. What we do is we go into an orphanage and we bring it up to certain standard constructionwise. That would be footpaths, wheelchair access, improving the living conditions for the kids in the house. ”
They are currently helping a massive orphanage run in part by a Mayo woman, Gena Heraty, and Mr O’Connell said there is years of work ahead of them to get the orphanage to the standard they aspire to.
“It is a huge orphanage, called Kay Christine. There are 360 kids on-site living there, another 500 come in every day for schooling and food and they have between 50 and 60 disabled children there all the time.
“We started there in March 2015 and I expect we will be there for another five or six years.”
As word of their work spread, the charity were contacted by people who had donations they felt could be of use to the project.
The initial donation of hospital equipment from a hospitogether tal in Mullingar has since been added to considerably and Mr O’Connell was keen to pay tribute to the many Irish businesses and bodies who support their efforts.
“Celtic Linen, who supply hospitals and hotels, turn over their stock every so often and we get everything new from them - bedsheets, hospital scrubs, down to even hotel curtains which were turned into tablecloths.
Medical equipment is highly valuable and Cork University Hospital are regular contributors. “I collect from a company called 3R Mobility, who make wheelchairs.”
Cork’s Community Boatyard, Meitheal Mara, and Naomhóga Chorcaí sent two flat pack currachs and two volunteers also went to teach the locals how to build them to replace the fishing boats lost in the earthquake.
“Everything we get is free, our biggest issue is funding the shipping of the container. It comes to €5,500 to €6,000 per container, John said.
Grant Engineering are very good to us and give us donations towards the cost of the containers.”
Nobody is employed by the charity, something Mr O’Connell was keen to emphasise. “We generally run three trips to Haiti a year and when we fly out, each individual pays for their own flights. ”
To support their work, the group are holding an event in the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel on Friday. Doors open at 7pm and tickets will be available on the door.
Well known Cork DJ Rocking Jerry will provide the background music for a fashion show, followed by live music from The Laughing Shamrocks. There will also be spot prizes and an auction on the night.