Aspen couple struggles to learn plight of orphans in Haiti
ASPEN – Joe and Susie Krabacher of Aspen spent a nerve-racking day Wednesday trying to learn more about the fate of their foundation’s 146 employees and hundreds of orphans and sick kids in Haiti.
“We haven’t been able to get through to anybody,” said Joe Krabacher, an Aspen attorney and director of the Mercy and Sharing Foundation. They founded the organization in 1994 to help children in the impoverished country.
The Krabachers learned Tuesday, after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, that their biggest facility survived with no damage. Since then, communication has been impossible. Krabacher said Wednesday that their Williamson campus is about 40 miles north-northwest of the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, which received the brunt of the damage.
Williamson consists of an orphanage and feeding center/church on 20 acres. It has its own well and generator for electricity, as long as its limited gas supply holds out.
The Mercy and Sharing Foundation has informed the U.S. State Department that the facility is available for use as a hospital, refugee center, or both. The problem, Krabacher said, is transporting anyone from the hard-hit area to the countryside. Transportation is at a virtual standstill. Press reports say thousands have died in Haiti and that the capital is in ruins.
One orphanage operated by the Mercy and Sharing Foundation near the capital suffered extensive damage, and a worker suffered two broken legs, Krabacher said. The children were unharmed.
The Krabachers still have “no idea” how a private hospital they built fared. It was a typical three-story, cinder-block building, he said. They also are awaiting word on a school they built in the slums of the capital.
A member of the foundation’s board of directors is flying to the Dominican Republic then driving to Haiti to survey the damage first hand. The board member has a satellite phone so communication to the U.S. will be improved.
“At this time donations are more important than ever to help us with our rescue efforts,” the Krabachers wrote on the Mercy and Sharing Foundation Facebook page. “As Mercy and Sharing covers all of its own operating coasts, please know that 100% of your donations goes directly to the people of Haiti.”
Donations can be made at http://www.haitichildren.com/donation/.
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Eagle County will go to Stage 2 fire restrictions Friday, joining Pitkin County and other state and federal lands in the area.