USF group seeks Haitian orphanage

    Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage in northern Haiti is too crowded to serve more Haitian orphans, and University of Saint Francis (USF) students hope to raise $50,000 this fall so a new facility can be built by February, 2013.
    USF students connected with Father Andre Sylvestre, founder of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, two years ago. The USF students had been supplying funds and supplies to a variety of sources in Haiti ever since biology major Cortney Shepard returned from a mission trip and founded Formula for Life in 2007.
    The signature event of Formula for Life is a 5K walk/run and silent auction in the spring to raise funds to feed Haitian orphans. Formula for Life now dedicates nearly all of its fundraising efforts to the orphans of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage.    Last year’s event raised over $11,000 for food and the drilling of a well for clean water. The student-led project has become the orphanage’s financial mainstay in terms of nutritional funds, according to Dr. Amy Obringer of Decatur who heads the project. (Adams Central graduate Chelsea Selking is one of the students involved in the project.)
    Each child at the orphanage has a survival story: 2010 earthquake, abandonment, death of parents from malnutrition or disease, or escape from a restavek (childhood slavery) situation. But for every child helped by these new funds, more wait for salvation. The orphanage now houses and feeds 24 children and three caretakers in a facility comparable to a very small ranch home.
    Rent renewal is due in February unless $50,000 is raised for a new facility on 15 acres of land already owned by the orphanage.
    “This is the first phase in a long-term construction effort to build a home-like orphanage that can provide for 100 or more orphans,” said Amanda Pedro, this year’s Formula for Life student leader. “Father Andre is a visionary and wants to create a better Haiti, one orphan at a time.”
    The university has established a giving link on its website to receive electronic donations from community members who wish to help. Donations can be made at
    Pedro and group adviser USF biology professor Dr. Obringer are giving public presentations to organizations with an interest in this mission. Cash and check donations can be given to them after the presentations. The university will issue receipts for tax purposes. Donations can also be sent directly to Obringer’s attention at University of Saint Francis, 2701 Spring St., Fort Wayne, IN 46808.
    To arrange for a presentation, contact Obringer at
    The Formula for Life walk/run and silent auction will be April 14, 2013 and will continue to provide funding for food for the orphanage until it reaches its goal of self-sufficiency. “Formula for Life will continue its mission of providing nutritional support, but considering the urgent need for a larger residential facility, we are doing a fall campaign to raise money only for the construction of the home,” Obringer said. “We are one of Father Sylvestre’s main financial supporters. The USF students who have travelled there truly love him and what he is doing. He is an inspiration to all of us,” Pedro said.
    The effort has raised nearly $6,000 through the USF website, and combined with other outreaches, Formula for Life is over halfway to its $50,000 goal, but more gifts and pledges are needed by Nov. 1 to complete construction of the facility by February, Obringer said.
    For more information, contact Obringer or Pedro at