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Minister experiences strife of Haitian orphanage

Minister experiences strife of Haitian orphanage

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Minister experiences strife of Haitian orphanage

May 12, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {00??}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

HOBE SOUND — The Rev. James Trainer didn’t know what to expect when he arrived in Haiti March 30.

The country had been experiencing significant instability since the abrupt, forced departure of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in mid-February after months of political unrest, but the recent chaos wasn’t enough to keep Trainer away from the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

The pastor of Hobe Sound United Methodist Church only knew what he had seen on television or read in articles about Haiti, but he soon learned all he wanted to know as he journeyed to God’s Littlest Angel Orphanage in Petit-Goave.

Trainer made the trip with his brother and sister-in-law to visit his niece, who is working at the orphanage on a six-month assignment (ADD WHO SHE’S WORKING WITH). They also took much-needed supplies to the children. They returned April 3.

“There were Marines at the end of the runway when we landed,” Trainer said. “That caused both comfort and concern.”

Trainer said things slowly returned to normal in the country when the curfew was moved from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and then lifted altogether while he was there.

Whatever concern Trainer had was replaced with elation as he fell in love with the 70 children at the orphanage, many of whom are living with AIDS and have been abandoned or surrendered by parents no longer able to care for them. He said half the children are toddlers. The rest are a combination of infants and children of varying ages.

According to the General Board of Global Ministries Haiti’s infant and under-five mortality rates are the highest in the developing world, and Haiti’s children need initiatives designed to help them gain access to essential health services. The leading causes of death among children are diarrhea, acute respiratory infection and malnutrition. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) supports several projects in Haiti, including a hot lunch program for Methodist schools, Grace Children’s Hospital and community agricultural programs.

“We went there to be of encouragement for my niece, but also to take supplies,” Trainer said. “When I got there none of the children had shoes, and when we left they all had shoes we had brought with us. We also took basic baby items.”

The three managed to deliver 400 pounds of supplies for the orphanage, yet wished they could have done more.

“I just remember thinking, ‘how can it be so close and yet so desperate?’ ” Trainer said. “It was a heart-wrenching experience. I just don’t know how to solve the problem.”

Some of the children are being adopted from Canada and Europe, but the fate of many is to remain at the orphanage. Trainer said the trip enabled him to establish a relationship with the orphanage, and he plans to return in the next six months with laity from his church and more supplies.

“I was able to go there and see it, and now the church has a little bit of ownership with the orphanage because they have seen the pictures I took, and I sang songs with the children, held them and loved them,” he said.

Although he has heard the argument there should be more of an emphasis on the needs of Americans, Trainer disagrees.

“Missions is across the street and across the world,” he said. “I think we can take care of problems here and other places. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.”

Trainer said he often wrestles with the idea of living in a country of such wealth, while seeing the needs of people in Cuba, Mexico and West Africa where he has visited.

“It seems that our humanitarian hearts would have done more by now,” he said. “I know that now that I have seen the faces of the people in Haiti, it’s taken on a different meaning to me than people on an island over there.”

For more information about Haiti visit and select the Crisis: Haiti icon.


This article relates to Missions.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.