In February 2002 work began on the construction of the Centre Orpheliant Marantha de La Victorie, an orphanage and primary school in the community of Grison-Garde, Haiti. Although Grison-Garde is among the most impoverished places on our planet, the people who live there are rich in spirit and hope. As in many communities in northern Haiti, boundaries are vaguely defined, but all lie within the continuum of poverty that extends across the enire country. There are village elders, middle aged men and women and many youngsters-among them are hundreds of orphans and malnourished children. Because insufficient medical care is available, help comes mostly from American mission work. Children who have lost parents to illness abound. Haiti does not offer free public school, which makes it impossible for impoverished families to afford the $60.00 annual fee for school.

    The orphanage at Grison-Garde is entirely a product of the hopes and plans that the community elders have developed in recent years. They established a board of directors, drew up plans for the orphanage and school, and received a plot of land donated by their president, Joseph “Lionel” Bastien. Lionel Bastien asked our Haitian Mission, which had been sending medical teams to Haiti for 25 years, for any help we could offer. We assured him that we would seek sponsors.

    Enter Bob Ford of Port Charlotte, Florida. At 93 years of age, Bob offered to sponsor the initial phase of construction of the orphanage and school. The orphanage now houses 56 boys and girls. The 430 student school adjacent to the orphanage has been completed. This offers free education for the poor of Grison-Garde.

    The cost of the project is well over $250,000 so far, but much more needs to be accomplished. All the work has been done by the people of Grison-Garde. This has provided a huge economic boost to that poverty stricken area, where over 75% of people are unemployed. 96% of funding has come from private donation. American contractors who have visited the project described the construction as “first class”.

    A good well has been drilled at the orphanage, and 8 others drilled within the community. There is now a complete running water system. A solar panel electrical system has been installed because there is no electricity available in rural Haiti. The children now have an expanded play ground and soccer field. Furniture for the school and orphanage is purchased from the local carpenters. Food preparation for the orphans requires $40,000 a year. The annual operating costs for running the orphanage and school are close to $150,000, not including the cost of construction and operation of the vocational school, drilling water wells, etc. For all those needs, and many more we seek help.

    Each of the 430 day students receives a noon meal. As a teacher said, "Some of the children are so hungry they cannot learn." The cost of these meals is $48,000 per year. Life here is not easy (pa fasil).

    The Robert Ford Haitian Orphanage and School Foundation is a tax exempt, secular foundation created to support this effort. The Robert Ford Foundation is strictly a volunteer effort. No salaries, expenses, etc. are paid for any volunteer. If a volunteer chooses to travel to Haiti, he/she pays their own way. 100% of all funds the Foundation receives goes directly to the Haitians. Donations may be given to sponsor a child, purchase needed materials, or to the operational fund. All donations are welcome!