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Saugus High graduate shares Haitian orphanage experience

Charity 5K run held at Central Park in Saugus

Posted: August 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Amanda Keating poses next to handmade Haitian crafts that she was selling at Central Park in Saugus on Sunday.


Amanda Keating’s humanitarianism  happened by chance.

She first went to Haiti in 2010 after the 7.0 earthquake left more than 300,000 people dead and an estimated 1 million homeless. She went at the request of a friend whose house had been turned into an orphanage after children just started showing up after the earthquake.

Keating intended to stay in Haiti for a month, but ended up quitting her job to stay and help out at Fondation Foyer Des Enfantes, which is what the home orphanage is now called.

“I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Keating, a Saugus High School graduate, about her initial time in Haiti. “I just started trying to teach kids English at this house that had been turned into an orphanage.”

Keating is spending two weeks in the Santa Clarita Valley to raise enough money to feed the kids at the orphanage for a month. On Saturday she was passing out photos of the orphans she works with and selling handmade artwork at a charity 5K run for Children of the Nations at Central Park in Santa Clarita.

Before she left for her brief stay in the SCV, Keating took the orphans to a store and told them she would buy them any candy they wanted. None of the kids wanted candy, but asked for rice instead.

“They told me they hadn’t eaten in two days and just wanted rice,” Keating said. “So I bought them rice and candy.”

Keating said working with orphans in Haiti is often difficult because of language barriers and lax laws protecting children.

After spending months with a child who only spoke Creole, Keating found out through an interpreter that a neighbor family was beating her on a regular basis.

“I would ask her if she was happy,” Keating said. “But because she was speaking Creole I didn’t know what she was trying to tell me.”

Among other things, Keating hopes to find soccer cleats while she’s here so the orphans can play soccer in local tournaments. She said she’s motivated to help orphans in Haiti because they both share a common humanity.

“I just want to give the kids in the orphanage the same opportunities I had growing up,” Keating said. “They’re human and they deserve it.

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