Haiti: a wellspring of USF love and support

Since USF student Courtney Shepard established Formula for Life in 2007 after encountering a starving infant during a medical mission trip, the student-led organization has been providing food, wells for clean water and, most recently, funds to build a new orphanage as the event has grown. Last year, the organization raised $75,000 for a facility for children left parentless by disaster, poverty, disease or abandonment, and this year’s event in April added nearly $14,000. Construction is in progress on 15 acres of land.

In May, a group of USF students traveled to Haiti for a first-hand, and hands-on, look at some of the progress made there through the efforts of their group and university.

The foundation has been poured, and the group helped make concrete blocks for the new facility for Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage, which had occupied a cramped city rental. The spacious new home in the country will serve up to 100 orphans and their caregivers.

The students talked with and held the orphans, taken from the street or poor families unable to care for them and nourished back to health, some from near-starvation. The children in bright blue-and-orange Formula for Life t-shirts made a colorful statement about the mission’s impact.

Students also delivered to orphanage director Father André Sylvestre over $1,800 raised through the USF faculty, staff and student H2O Challenge during Lent. The H2O Project challenges people to make water their beverage for a designated time and donate the money saved to an organization that provides clean water in developing countries.

Students witnessed the manual drilling of the second well provided to Father André through the challenge. Drilled to 100 feet, it will serve the people, livestock and crops. Three men used muscle power, not electrical power, to drill, while another sat at the tip of the pipe to help push it down.

Formula for Life faculty adviser Dr. Amy Obringer’s group also made important medical and education contacts during the visit. All of the visitors toured the factory of Meds & Foods for Kids, established in Haiti by U.S. pediatrician Dr. Pat Wolfe to create jobs and use local resources to provide critical nutrition for children.

Meds & Food for Kids produces a variety of medical peanut butter formulas which have brought children near death from starvation back to life. Children arriving at Father Andre's suffering from starvation have been revived by this food regimen. The USF groups also met with administration, faculty and students of Notre Dame School of Nursing and discussed USF nursing students training with them on a future visit.

The University of Saint Francis, founded in 1890 as a comprehensive university in the Catholic Franciscan tradition, offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs through the School of Health Sciences, School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Keith Busse School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership and School of Creative Arts. In addition to its traditional programs, the university designs focused curriculum for working adults in Fort Wayne, Crown Point and online. More than 2,400 students from a broad geographic region attend USF for its academic excellence.

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