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29690: Hermantin(News)Pair help the poor at home, in Haiti (fwd)
From: leonie hermantin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Pair help the poor at home, in Haiti
Two women work to aid promising students
By Carol Anne Burger
December 17, 2006
Ellie Caldwell and Gloria VanBrocklin aren't out to fix the world's problems,
but their efforts have made a difference in the lives of poor people in Belle
Glade and Haiti, particularly one Haitian college student.
Caldwell, who lives in Wellington, teaches English and writing at Palm Beach
Community College in Belle Glade and is the creator and director of Wellington
Cares, a clearinghouse for donations and assistance for the poor.
VanBrocklin is a pediatric nurse practitioner who works for Florida Atlantic
University at the Community Wellness Center, a full-service clinic attached to
Glade View Elementary School in Belle Glade. She is also an associate of the
Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament of Bensalem, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia,
which operates the St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center in Ferrier, Haiti.
VanBrocklin, who lives in West Palm Beach, spent three years there as a
missionary in the mid-1990s.
"I got to know Ellie Caldwell when she'd gather donations for me to bring to
Haiti," VanBrocklin said.
In the past, Wellington Cares has gathered books, supplies, food and clothing
to be sent to Haiti, but those efforts have been stymied by delays in delivery
because of bureaucracy and distribution problems.
Both women have come to champion a more direct way of helping people overcome
poverty by giving scholarships to bright Haitian high school graduates.
"Americans are generous and want to help, but they also want to know that what
they give is actually getting through to the people who need it," Caldwell
said. "They are demanding accountability through direct, one-on-one
That's where the St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center Scholarship Aid Program
comes in, VanBrocklin said.
"The sisters have been running the mission center in Ferrier for 20 years, and
I've been going back several times a year since I returned to the States," she
VanBrocklin left Haiti after the 2004 coup that unseated elected President Jean
Bertrand-Aristide. But she has never forgotten the conditions in Haiti or the
people there who suffer through grinding poverty with what she calls "a spirit
and fortitude that says, `I'll make it,' through a strong faith and willingness
to work hard."
"In Ferrier, there's an orphanage, an elementary school, an elder care center
and a clinic. We feed 500 people each day," VanBrocklin said.
Inside the high-walled mission, nuns have trained local women to work in the
orphanage and clinic, and they have developed other marketable skills, such as
sewing and fine embroidery. "We teach them skills to pass on to others, so they
can help themselves. Now, we're trying to establish a scholarship they must
first earn, it's not a handout, so that they can rebuild their own country,"
"Building up Third World countries seems a good way to help people stay in
their countries, so they don't come here with such desperate need," Caldwell
said. "There are few scholarships in Haiti, so these poor kids who graduate at
the top of their high school classes have no hope of going to college."
During her last stay in Haiti, one student, Jodemel Raphael Duprey, impressed
VanBrocklin so much that she contributed money for him to attend Our Lady of
Haiti, Notre Dame, in Cap-Haitien this year. He is studying computer science
Upon her return last March, she spoke with another nurse at the Glade View
clinic and with Caldwell, both of whom matched her donation, making his
advanced schooling possible.
A little goes a long way in Haiti, where Duprey's mother works at the mission
clinic. She saved enough money to pay for his high school education (there is
no free public education in Haiti) and for his room and board at college. But
tuition, room and board and books cost about $1,000 in U.S. dollars, too large
a sum for her to manage alone. "His mother has sacrificed so much," VanBrocklin
said. "Just going to high school there costs $500 a year, and college seems out
Duprey graduated first in his class in June and has worked at the mission,
entering data into the computer, accepting no pay for his time.
"He just feels thankful for any help. Like so many who only want a chance to
earn their way out of poverty, they'll do anything asked of them for an
opportunity," VanBrocklin said.
Caldwell has expanded the options available at Wellington Cares to include
either whole or shared donations to worthy students such as Duprey, to be
administered by the St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center.
"There will be no administrative costs, and the money will be sent to St.
Katharine's center twice a month to be doled out directly to the college when
bills are due for the student," Caldwell said.
Checks should be made out to St. Katharine Drexel Mission Center, Att:
Scholarship Aid, and sent to Sister Patricia Downs, Sisters of the Blessed
Sacrament, 1663 Bristol Pike, Bensalem, PA 19020-5796.
Copyright © 2006, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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