Editor’s note: “Bringing It Home” runs weekends in The Aspen Times and focuses on state, national or international issues that have ties to or impacts on the Roaring Fork Valley.
When the Mercy and Sharing organization won the annual World of Children Award in 2006 for its humanitarian efforts in Haiti, it justified much of the hard work, time and dedication that founder Susie Krabacher and her people put into the group.
In November, Krabacher and her organization were given the 2013 World of Children Alumni Award, honoring her continued efforts to raise the quality of life for many disadvantaged children in the Caribbean republic.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized again by the World of Children,” Krabacher said. “It adds more inspiration to continue doing what we do.”
Since 1994, Krabacher has dedicated a large part of her life to helping the abandoned, orphaned and disabled children of Haiti through her organization, Mercy and Sharing.
It’s an organization that works to provide the basic necessities for people in need as well as educate and train a part of the Haiti population that normally wouldn’t have those services offered.
Mercy and Sharing currently has more than 1,100 students enrolled at three schools and vocational-training programs. These children all receive annual vaccinations and a nutritious meal every day, according to the nonprofit.
The annual World of Children Award provides funding and recognition to support the program or individual it honors.
“Winning the award took Mercy and Sharing from sitting on the launching pad to finally having the fuel to fly,” Krabacher said. “The recognition was so important. It gave us stronger credibility, raised awareness of our mission and gave our team of 200 Haitian workers a strong sense of pride and accomplishment.”
This year, she was awarded the 2013 Alumni Award to recognize her continued efforts since 2006. The award includes $50,000 for her organization that Krabacher said will go toward re-establishing the Abandoned Baby Triage Center. Mercy and Sharing ran the center from 1995 through 2010, but it was discontinued after the government-controlled hospital that housed the center was damaged in the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Concerning Krabacher’s Alumni Award, the World of Children website states, “The (Haiti) earthquake in 2010 wrought devastation in Haiti, yet Mercy and Sharing continued to grow programs and services throughout this difficult period. Now, Susie is poised to ensure that Mercy and Sharing is working in Haiti for at least 20 more years — regardless of the obstacles in her path.”
Mercy and Sharing currently serves more than 5,000 Haitian children through its schools, care facilities and nutritional clinics.
Krabacher is especially concerned with the Promise 126 program, where the goal is to provide the 126 orphans in the care of Mercy and Sharing — many with disabilities and special needs — with financial sponsors. All of these orphans were abandoned and left to die until Mercy and Sharing took them in.
A $6,000 sponsorship donation will provide food and shelter, medical care, therapy, vaccinations and education for one child for the whole year.
“We also give them love and care,” Krabacher said. “We don’t facilitate adoptions; instead, we try and educate the kids to become a contributing member of their Haitian society.”
Krabacher’s husband, Joe practices law in Aspen but also donates his time to Mercy and Sharing, making at least three or four visits to Haiti annually. While he admits it isn’t easy having his wife be away for so much of the year, he said he’s proud of what she does to help others.
“Susie is relentless,” he said. “She’s working 24/7 on this project. She spends a lot of time in Haiti, but I also lose her to all the fundraising she does. I understand it’s not an easy job. Of course I miss her, but she’s got a real heart for the kids she helps.
“We don’t help the kids in Haiti because it’s easy; we do it because it’s hard and there aren’t a lot of other groups able to offer what we do. It’s a battle in Haiti.”
There are also safety issues to deal with. Haiti endured several large disasters in the past decade, including the horrific earthquake in 2010 that decimated parts of the country that still haven’t recovered. Susie Krabacher has witnessed the effects of government corruption, civil unrest, gangs and compromised living conditions and at times had to have armed security with her when traveling in Haiti.
“There definitely is danger in Haiti,” Joe Krabacher said. “We both share a strong Christian faith and feel like the work we do is protected there. Susie is street-smart and understands the Haitian culture. In some ways, we take the same attitude as someone in the military. Yes, there is danger, but we’re doing this for a bigger cause.”
Anyone wishing to donate, sponsor a child or find other ways to help Mercy and Sharing can find more information at www.haitichildren.com.