By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough/Southborough – Five relatives from Northborough and Southborough are following up on their week of volunteer work at an orphanage in Haiti in March 2013. They'se hosting two Haitian teens, Patrick Carrier and Rose Kermine Chery, who are attending the International Summer Program at Worcester Academy to focus on English as a second language (ESL).
One of the family members is Northborough resident Marillyn Earley, the director of advancement at Worcester Academy.
“These kids are having an opportunity to see what our lives are like here, just as we had an opportunity to see theirs in Haiti,” she said.
Marillyn went to Haiti with her daughter Lauren, now an eighth-grader at Melican Middle School; her niece Erika, now a senior at Smith College who speaks fluent French; her sister-in-law Jill Smith Earley of Southborough and her daughter Lilly, now an eighth-grader at Dana Hall School in Wellesley.
Their inspiration to volunteer began a few years ago at St. Bernadette Church when Lauren heard a visiting deacon speak about a Haitian orphanage. The following year while a fifth-grader at Proctor Elementary School, Lauren spearheaded a month-long fundraiser with classmates Katelyn Reynolds, Katherine Lee and Tyler Potter. Katelyn's mother is a nurse and regularly visits Haiti.
Marillyn credits Principal Margaret Donohoe for allowing the students to fully organize the fundraiser.
“She gave them the freedom to really own it,” Marillyn noted. “They went to each classroom to explain everything; they made the flyers; they had the meetings and they counted all the money.”
The students raised and donated $2,059.50 to two organizations that assist those in need in Haiti: Free the Kids and Partners in Development.
It was at a family party when they shared their interests in volunteering at the Haitian orphanage that benefitted from the students” fundraiser. Marillyn and Jill spread the word via social media for donations to bring with them.
“We raised $5,000 from many generous Northborough and Southborough families,” Marillyn said. “We also brought backpacks, underwear and clothes – all new stuff that people donated.”
They also brought a plan to keep the children at the orphanage entertained during their school break.
“They don's have scheduled programs on their break,” Marillyn explained. “We had a spa day where we braided the girls” hair, and did nail polish and make-up. We also did beading, and other arts and crafts projects.”
The family also visited the children's ward of a Mother Teresa hospital.
“Our girls just walked in and picked up the very sick babies,” Marillyn relayed. “Some of the children had skin diseases. Most of them would have starved to death if they weren's there.”
After returning home, the family attempted to bring Haitian youth to the United States to attend the ESL program in Worcester. Last summer, they were unable to acquire a visa for them.
This year, Marillyn asked for help from the office of U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-2nd District. She expressed the family's gratitude for the efforts of Kathleen Polanowicz, district director, and Gladys Rodriguez-Parker, senior district representative.
“They were unbelievably willing and helpful,” she said. “They wrote letters of support to the American Embassy in Haiti and they made phone calls. The second time we tried acquiring a visa we had no trouble at all.”
The family has seen a lot through their volunteer experience.
“You see the huge disadvantages that people who live in poverty have,” Marillyn said. “You also see there's a simplicity and a lovingness in their lifestyle that often gets lost in our frenzied life. There's a joy and a warmth in Haitian people that I hope these kids don's lose.”