SOU student raising funds for Haiti orphanage

When Southern Oregon University senior Jamie Roupp drove through Port-au-Prince in Haiti this summer, she was on her way to volunteer at an orphanage.

Now, three days after a massive earthquake rocked the region, she is again trying to help the people of Haiti.

The 21-year-old Ashland resident is raising money for the orphanage, located about 10 miles from the capital, near the epicenter of the quake.

"There are already so many orphan children, and now what's going to happen to that number?" she said Thursday. "They need food and water and everything. It's just hard to imagine."

The 160-child orphanage, God's Littlest Angels, was damaged — but not decimated — in the quake, she said. As the walls shook, some of the infants and children fell to the ground, but none were seriously injured, according to the orphanage.

"They didn't have time to get out at all," Roupp said. "The kids and nannies were falling over and everything was knocked off the shelves. They had to wait it out and then they got everyone out as quick as they could afterward."

Caretakers at the orphanage lost family members in the quake, according to Tom Vanderwell, a member of the orphanage's board who is spearheading the national fundraising effort.

"This is without a doubt the biggest natural disaster that has ever hit Haiti," he wrote in a blog post on the orphanage's Web site, "While God's Littlest Angels has been spared the worst of it, many of their families and many, many of the rest of the people in Haiti are not so fortunate."

The children and caretakers at the orphanage are reeling from the tens of thousands of deaths due to the disaster, Roupp said.

For two nights after the quake, the children and caretakers slept outside, because the 5.0 magnitude aftershocks posed a danger.

Orphanage administrators expect the number of orphans in Haiti to increase substantially due to the number of deaths, Roupp said.

The Ashland High School graduate spent a month at the orphanage, after learning about from a woman at her church, the United Church of Christ.

"It's just been shocking," she said. "When I was there this summer, prior to the earthquake, I couldn't believe the poverty — they were already in such a crisis and this is just going to add to it."

She is hoping to raise $1,000 from Ashland residents to help the orphanage feed children, provide medical aid and take in more orphans, she said. According to Roupp, 100 percent of donation money will go directly to humanitarian aid.

The Christian-based orphanage has registered nurses, medical supplies and a generator in Haiti, enabling it to "have an immediate impact," Vanderwell wrote.

Orphanage workers are concerned that roads may have been severed in the quake, cutting off access and limiting the amount of supplies that can be delivered to people in the surrounding areas, according to Vanderwell.

"The orphanage relies on the delivery of food and water weekly. Staff started rationing food for the children today," he wrote Wednesday.

Caretakers are also concerned that adoption papers for many of the children were likely lost in Port-au-Prince government buildings that have been leveled. Orphanage workers are hoping to get emergency humanitarian visas for some of the children, enabling the orphanage to accept more children.

The orphanage is asking people to contact their local senators and representatives, and ask them to contact the State Department to request visas for the children.

As Ashland residents learn more about her experience in Haiti, Roupp hopes they will be motivated to help.

"Even though we aren't there and we can see them right now, no one should have to go through what they're going though," she said.

To donate to the orphanage, or for more information, log on to or contact Roupp at 941-6417.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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