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Free the Kids, a charity that supports Pwoje Espwa (Project Hope), a Haitian orphanage, has set a goal to raise $12,000 in 24 hours on Tuesday, Dec. 3.

Though the country has been trapped for years in cycles of political and economic dysfunction, the New York Times recently reported the current crisis is worse than most Haitians have seen in their lifetimes.

The newspaper reported that weeks of unrest, rampant corruption and economic malaise have led to soaring prices, disintegration of public services and a sense of insecurity and lawlessness. At least 30 people have been killed in demonstrations in the past few weeks.

Pwoje Espwa has not been exempt. Food is being rationed. Classes have resumed after a seven-week hiatus.

Jack Reynolds, an elder at Fountain Hills Presbyterian Church supporting the orphanage, said armed gangs breached the security wall twice and robbed the staff and children of cell phones, food and cash.

Noon Kiwanis Club, Four Peaks and Fountain Hills Rotary Clubs raised funds in the community to feed the youngsters.

Reynolds, a member of the Free the Kids’ board of directors; Kenneth J. Brown, then-associate pastor of Presbyterian Church, and Roger Bates visited Pwoje Espwa in January 2017. Reynolds said his most recent visit was last January.

Reynolds’ brother-in-law, Catholic priest Father Marc Boisvert, had supervised the compound until his retirement last year because of health issues. He now lives in Florida.

Fundraiser

Donations will be designated for Family Support Packages to assist vulnerable families.

Adjusted to the needs of each family, the package includes scholarship support for children, nutrition support to start a home garden or animal husbandry, family counseling and training and classes to gain business, literary and financial skills.

Supporting a family for three years costs $3,000.

The intent of the program is to keep families together by addressing the needs of parents having to give up their children to institutions.

The website for donations is FreeTheKids.org.