By Tony Terzi
For one couple there is both heartache and hope in Haiti.
Only three hours before the infamous earthquake, which devastated the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation on January 12, 2010, 19-year-old Britney Gengel texted her mother saying how beautiful the country and its people are despite the poverty. She added that she wanted to move to Haiti and open her own orphanage.
"They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and they work so hard to get nowhere, yet they are all so appreciative. I want to move here and start an orphanage myself."
Britney Gengel was a college student who was performing mission work in Haiti. She was staying in Port au Prince’s Hotel Montana with fellow students. She didn't survive the earthquake, which registered a magnitude 7 and killed more than 300,000 people. But her dream did not die.
Her father Len Gengel, a Central Connecticut State University graduate, is a home-builder and he built an orphanage in the shape of a B in the coastal community of Grand Goave. That was the town Britney’s group was supposed to visit the day after the earthquake.
The Be Like Brit Orphanage is now home to 47 children. The orphanage will cap out at 66 kids; 33 boys and 33 girls. The number 33 is significant because that’s how many days it took to recover Britney Gengel’s remains.
The orphanage offers state of the art medical care and education. Len and his wife, Cherylann, make it clear that these children, who are aged 2 to 12, will remain with the Be Like Brit family until they are old enough to be on their own.
For more information of the orphanage, mission trips or other ways you can assist these children, visit BeLikeBrit.org.