By Joel Hall
Before the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people, the Pascalita Building in Port-au-Prince was a bustling orphanage providing shelter and sustenance to 300 Haitian children.
While no children in the orphanage were killed, the 7.0-magnitude earthquake left the building in ruins.
Destiny International Foursquare Church in Jonesboro, and its sister church in Haiti, Destiny International Church, have helped support and administer the orphanage since 2005. This Sunday, Destiny International in Jonesboro and Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development Center will host a banquet to raise money for the orphans, who are now homeless.
The Healing for Haiti Dinner and Fundraiser will take place Sunday, from 3 to 6 p.m., at Destiny International Foursquare Church, located at 737 Veterans Parkway, Suite 600, in Jonesboro.
For a donation of $10, patrons will be treated to a buffet-style dinner, and entertainment provided by gospel singers, praise dancers, and local, Christian comedian, George Echols.
Rev. Willie Simpson serves as pastor of Destiny International and CEO of Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development Center, a local, non-profit organization that provides counseling and outreach to disadvantaged youths and the homeless. She said proceeds from Sunday's dinner will help purchase food, medicine, and other supplies for the children, who are currently living in make-shift tents.
"None of those children were killed, thank God, but the building was destroyed," Simpson said. "Everything is outside now. They have some blankets and sheets strewn over posts, and that is what they are using now. The fund-raiser is to raise some money ... to buy food and to get some of the things they immediately need."
Simpson said another function of the effort will be to raise awareness of the problems that still exist within Haiti. She said during the dinner, a video will be shown of the orphanage as it once stood, and the conditions in Haiti prior to the earthquake.
"The orphanage there does not compare to anything we have here," Simpson said. "There is no T.V., there are very few toys, very few books, and the meals are just a staple of rice and beans. When this [the earthquake] first happened, everybody was working to do something, but now, it's gone to the back page. We want to raise attention and show that there is still a need."
Jeylin White, a relationship educator with the non-profit organization, said Sunday's event will be entertaining, but will also work toward a good cause. She said she hopes the fund-raiser will encourage people to give.
"Even before the earthquake devastated the area, there were problems with homelessness and abandonment," White said. "You still have orphans who are on the street, who have nowhere to go. We understand that this happened in another country, but it affects us all. We want people to have the spirit to give and help those who are less fortunate than they are."
For more information, call (770) 756-9100.