Rochester Man Finds Orphans Alive, OK in Haiti
Rochester, N.Y. / Port-Au-Prince, Haiti - Roosevelt Mareus crossed the border into Haiti Saturday and began shooting pictures of everything he saw. By the time the bus got to Port-Au-Prince, seven hours later, he was overwhelmed.
"I felt so sad, I didn't know it was that bad," he said. "I saw it on CNN, but being there, seeing every other house collapsed, or on the verge of collapsing, it was emotional."
Even more emotional: returning to the compound his family built in Port-Au-Prince. The two buildings house a church, a school, an orphanage, and eventually, a medical clinic.
Mareus found the buildings still standing.
"There is no damage to the clinic and the orphanage," he said. "However, the church and the school suffered a little bit of damage."
The only real problem he found was that the wall surrounding the compound had crumbled. Mareus said, "My father was in Haiti at the time, so he made sure the buildings had a good foundation."
Then -- he saw twelve smiling faces of the orphans who call this compound home.
"As soon as I got there, they said, "Pappy's back! Pappy's back! They call me 'Pappy'. I was very happy."
Like the building, the boys, ages three to six, were a little tattered, but they survived. Mareus lost some of his extended family, but said most are doing okay. "They survived, and they were thankful they survived," he said. "They see a lot of people who didn't make it."
Mareus, his family, and members of his church, New Life Fellowship, will return to Haiti in April with plans to rebuild the wall.
He saids a lot of people in Rochester asked about adopting the children in his orphanage, and he's now doing some research to see if that's possible.
Local man will head to Haiti, searching for family
Posted at: 01/14/2010 12:44 PM
By: Brett Stagnitti | WHEC.com
Roosevelt Mareus will head to Haiti this weekend to search for uncles and cousins who may be homeless following this week's massive earthquake. Mareus will also be checking on the orphanage that he and his family helped open just last month in Port-Au-Prince. The orphanage is home to twelve boys.
Mareus has lived in Rochester since the early 1990's, but he goes back to Haiti frequently. He was there over the Christmas holiday to see relatives and check on the orphanage. Saturday, he will return to Haiti. "First thing we are going to do is check on our families," said Mareus. "Once we make sure they are ok, we will go straight to the orphanage, make sure all the kids and employees are ok, and then after that, we will check on the surrounding communities and see how we can help them."
Mareus works as an admissions advisor for the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center. He assists adult students, including many from the Caribbean, who are learning English.
Mareus said he will feel a sense of relief, once he is back on the ground in Haiti. "Not knowing is the hard part, but when I got down there and see the whole situation I can evaluate and do what is needed to help out."
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