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17569: Lemieux: Davis County Clipper: Not quite home but Haiti for the holidays (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Not quite home – but Haiti – for the holidays


Clipper Staff Writer

CENTERVILLE — Merry Christmases are rare for people in
Haiti. But with the help of some new-found friends from
Centerville, Christmas 2003 will likely be the best
Christmas ever for a group of 10 Haitian orphaned

The teenagers are part of a massive throng of 7,000 street
kids who are trying to exist living on their own on the
streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti. Poverty,
deplorable living conditions, lack of education and work
opportunities, and being subject to a corrupt government
are the plight of these people.

The future looks brighter, however, for the 10 Haitian
teenage boys because of the efforts of a single mother and
her two daughters from Cache Valley.

Rebecca Maesato and daughters Leah and Ann moved to Haiti
last spring and started to care for the boys. Maesato is in
the process of adopting seven of them and bringing them
back to live with her in Utah. Two others are being adopted
by a family in Idaho.

A more urgent need to brighten Christmas this year for the
boys while they await emigration to the United States
turned into a service project for members of the Rolling
Hills Ward, Centerville Canyon View Stake and others who
wanted to help.

“I was just called to be the humanitarian service
coordinator for the ward,” Lori Henderson said. “I asked
the bishop if that humanitarian service was for the ward or
the whole world and he said the whole world.”

Henderson works part time as an accounting assistant for
KSL Television so she knew of the efforts of the Maesato
family from a news segment produced by anchorman Bruce

“My daughter and I just traveled to China to visit a
friend. While we were there we encountered the poorest of
people. The poor people in China will do anything to earn
some money and sometimes they interfere with tour groups. I
was told by a friend: ‘Don’t look them in the eye because
it will break your heart,’” Henderson said.

“My friend was right. It also broke my heart because I
wished I could help them all.

“I admired Rebecca for her work in Haiti and even envied
her because she was sacrificing so much to help these
boys,” Henderson said.

Henderson sent an e-mail to Maesato and asked her to give
her a list of things they needed. Maesato replied with an
extensive wish list of clothing, school aids, and everyday
items which the boys needed.

She wrote back: “I know that this is a hefty list and it is
just a wish list. We appreciate all of you and your help
and support.”

Some items were hard to find, but the Centerville group was
undaunted in their efforts.

“We have a very close ward and people did all they could to
find something on the list. The whole area here, members
and non-members, thought this was a great project and
eventually we were able to come up with every item on the
list,” Henderson said.

The items were taken to Orem, where Leah Maesato is now
living after living with her mom in Haiti for awhile. Leah
will give the items to people who are traveling to Haiti
this week.

These individuals will take the items as luggage. The
supplies could not be shipped any other way because they
would be stolen.

The whole endeavor took one month.

“One woman came the first night she learned about the
project and said she wanted to donate all the shoes,”
Henderson said. She said Maesato had to measure all the
boys because none of them knew sizes and there weren’t any
sizes on their clothes.

“Our bishop owns Mr. Mac downtown and he was able to figure
out all the sizes,” she said.

In a few weeks, Henderson’s house became a warehouse with
all kinds of boxes and bags loaded with goods. “Some
families made it a family project. One 7-year-old boy
donated his telescope,” Henderson said.

Many people also donated money to Maesato’s “Foundation for
Children in Need.”

After a segment about the efforts of the Centerville group
aired on KSL, Henderson started to receive calls from
people throughout Utah asking to help. “So much for
anonymous service,” she said.

The humanitarian project is called “Bringing hugs and
kisses to the orphans of the world.” For more information
call Lori Henderson, 298-9522.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

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