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Haiti rescue efforts helped by several local volunteers

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on January 04, 2011 with No Comments

By Carl Kurek

January 12 will mark the one year anniversary of the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated the small island of Haiti and left some 220,000 dead, more than 300,000 injured and more than 1 million homeless.
But Haiti was a country in need of help long before any earthquake. During the past 40 years, Haiti has gone through 80 different governments and as a result, Haitians have had to endure decades of political violence.
When help is truly needed, there seems to always be individuals who dedicate their time ñ and often their lives ñ to providing it.
Haiti is no different.
After reading about the conditions in Haiti, Mike Fedele of Hammond was inspired to journey to the country and see things for himself.
ìI got on a plane in September of 2002 and ended up staying 40 days, and that changed my lifeÖforever. I saw with my own eyes this unimaginable situation,î Fedele said in a 2008 interview.
By December of 2002 Fedele, a husband and father of two who worked as an accountant in Chicago, would establish Life for the World, Inc. a not-for-profit organization that aims to help citizens of Haiti.
With help from natives as well as supporters back home, Fedele would establish the Maranatha Orphanage and Primary School in Source Matelas, Haiti. Life for the World provides funding to support the orphanage and school, and they also distribute food, clothing and supplies to the people of Haiti.
The organization also helps provide medical care to the children and surrounding Haitian villages through the help of Dr. Christopher McIntire, a family doctor with practices in Griffith and Hammond.
The orphanage, which started off with eight children, now clothes, feeds and educates 160 Haitian children.
ìSince the earthquake, the donations have slowed down and people seem to be discouraged,î Monica Jimenez of Valparaiso, director of public relations for the organization, said. ìHowever, we still have ongoing supporters and this is a great help because without them we would not be where we are today.î
Jimenez said the organization itself seems to be getting bigger, and several interns have even been added to help with ongoing projects such as ìArt for Haiti.î
ìArt for Haitiî is an ongoing art project in which Kevin OíHanlon, a New York art gallery owner, and artist Richard Laurent take canvases and art supplies to the orphanage and allow the children to let their artistic talents flow. The works are then brought back to the gallery and sold, with proceeds benefiting Life for the World.
Being a not-for-profit organization, Life for the World relies heavily on fundraisers and support from the public to continue their efforts. Aside from car washes and bake sales, the organization has benefited from schools and businesses collecting funds, but they also host their own fundraisers.
The most recent of which was held Dec. 29 at Buffalo Wild Wings in Portage, where they will again return to on Jan. 26 to host another fundraiser.
ìWe are really trying to expand our fundraising efforts, and we would like to do fundraisers as often as possible,î Jimenez said.
Jimenez has been the driving force behind the organizations first black tie event entitled ìUnder These Stars,î which is set to take place Jan. 22 from 6-11 p.m. at the Briar Ridge Country Club in Schererville.
ìThe idea is that we all wish under the same stars and that we can make the wishes of these children come true,î Jimenez explained.
Her hope is that besides raising funds, the event will assist the organization in launching their Sponsor a Child program, which has seen little success since it began last April. There are still many tickets that need to be purchased and Jimenez said they are still in need of sponsors for the event, which will feature a silent auction with items such as autographed memorabilia from the Chicago Cubs, White Sox and Bears.
As if their efforts to better the lives of Haitians were not enough, Life for the World also focuses on fulfilling a more local need.
When Fedele, who now works from home as an accountant, used to work in Chicago, he frequently gave food to the homeless. Now for the past several years, Life for the World volunteers have traveled to Chicago during Thanksgiving and Christmas to give food, clothing and blankets to the homeless.
ìWe want to help everyone that we can,î Fedele said. ìThe donations that we have received from supporters will help us to be able to expand on our outreach efforts.î
Jimenez said that the great response the organization had to their Christmas Outreach efforts has made them decide to do the same thing at other times throughout the year.
But Jimenez said the organizationís ultimate goal is to be able to build a community to help the Haitians to be able to provide for themselves, and Fedeleís goal is to be able to leave Haiti knowing they do not need his help anymore.
ìHopefully the future is bright for Life for the World,î Jimenez said. ìWe not only help those in Haiti, but also right here in our own backyard. Life for the World is just about that ñ life for the world.î
For more information on Life for the World, to learn how you can help or to purchase tickets to their black tie event on Jan. 22, call 713-717-9822, visit www.lifefortheworld.com or e-mail mjimenezlifefortheworld@gmail.com.

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