Port-au-Prince, Haiti – Officials said Friday that at least 15 children died after a fire broke out in a house of Haitian children run by a Pennsylvania-based religious nonprofit group. Rose-Marie Louis, a child care worker at the home, said the fire started around 9pm. Thursday and firefighters took about 90 minutes to reach.
Louis said that about half of those who died were children or children and the others were about 10 or 11 years old. The orphanage was using candles to light due to problems with its generator and inverter, she said.
Later Friday afternoon, police also raided another house run by the Church of Bible Understanding and took out several dozen children in a bus on protest from employees. The fire broke out in the group’s orphanage in the Kenskoff region outside the Haitian capital, Port-a-Prince.
“It could have been for me,” said Renadine Mondeleen, 22, who lives in the house with her son, 22, as long as she had to rent her place to earn enough money as a street vendor for two years Start it. ” To live last year. “These little girls inside were like my child.”
Civil defense officer Jean-François Robenti said rescuers arrived at the scene on a motorcycle and did not need bottled oxygen or ambulances to transport the children to the hospital. “They could have been saved,” he said. The We did not have the tools to save our lives.
The Associated Press has reported on a long series of problems in the homes of two children run by the Church of Bible Understanding. “We are aware of a fire at the children’s home in Haiti,” Temi J., a spokesperson for the group. Said Sachs, which is based in Scranton, Pennsylvania. “It will be irresponsible for us to comment until all the facts are revealed.”
The Church of Bible Understanding lost recognition for their homes after a series of inspections that began in November 2012. Haitian inspectors blamed the group for overcrowding, uneven conditions and not having adequately trained staff.
Members of the religious group were selling expensive vintage building fixtures such as bankers and chandeliers in high-end stores in New York and Los Angeles and using a portion of the profits to fund homes.
In 2013, the Associated Press made an unannounced visit to the group’s two homes, totaling 120 children, and found bunk beds with faded and worn mattresses in the messy rooms. Sour air came through the bathroom and the stairs. The rooms were dark and spartan, lacking comfort or decor.
The Church of Bible Understanding operates two homes in Haiti as a “Christian training program” for about 200 children, according to its most recent non-profit organization, Filing. It has been operating in the country since 1977. It identifies homes as orphanages, but it is common for poor parents to place children in residential care centers in Haiti, where they live for many years and receive a widely changing education but are technically orphaned Are not.
“We take in children who are in desperate circumstances,” the organization says in its tax filing for 2017, the most recently available year. “Many of them were very close to death when we took them.” The nonprofit company reported revenue of $ 6.6 million and expenses of $ 2.2 million for the year.