Rise House still operational in Haiti

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The children of Rise House in Haiti are seen here, but their future is unknown given the extreme turmoil in the country. Rise House founder Emily Caron of Chatham is trying to keep funding flowing to keep the kids fed and the home running.

You can hear the emotion in Emily Caron’s voice when talking about what is transpiring nearly 2,800 kilometres away.

Caron, formerly Emily Hime, heads Rise House, which runs a home just outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.

Haiti has been in turmoil since early March. Gangs went on the rampage when then-Prime Minister Ariel Henry, was out of the country. The gangs blocked his return and forced him to give up his power.

“It’s pretty scary right now. The gangs have pretty much overtaken the country,” Caron said. “Our kids have missed a lot of school this year.”

The airport in Port-au-Prince and the port are blocked, preventing needed food from reaching the masses. An estimated 40 per cent of the population doesn’t have enough to eat.

Furthermore, there has been rampant unrest since 2021, when Jovenel Moise, who was the president at the time, was murdered in his residence.

“It’s been difficult the last couple of years, just due to the violence,” Caron said. “I haven’t been able to go back down there. Inflation is bad there as well. It’s costing more to buy food, buy gas, buy all the things we need to run the place.”

The home, which she said was downsized last year, is host to a couple of families, children and staff. Currently, there are about 14 people living in the home.

Caron has had a passion for helping children in Haiti since 2011 when she first visited the Caribbean country. She wound up moving down there in 2012 and took over a children’s home, establishing the Hime for Help charity.

That transitioned into Rise House in 2019, as Hime shared the responsibilities with a board of volunteers.

In terms of fundraising, Caron said it’s been a challenge to keep the cash flowing to the home.

“A lot of it is due to the fact I’m not down there. When I was down there, I was constantly taking photos and posting updates,” she said, and that was helping to keep people in Chatham-Kent and beyond updated on how the home was doing.

“We’re trying to hang on through all the turmoil,” Caron said. “I’m still in contact with our staff.”

But Caron doesn’t want to utilize social media to post images of the home or the children right now, out of fear the gangs will see an opportunity.

“I know a lot of organizations are targetted just because they (the gangs) assume there’s money there,” she said.

Caron, despite the struggle, does not want to close down the house.

“We don’t want to just abandon our projects down there. I know a lot of other organizations are pulling out because of the violence and corruption down there,” she said. “I have an emotional connection to Haiti, to these kids and to our staff. I feel like we owe it to them to pull through the tough times.”

To help keep the funds flowing, Rise House continues to run trivia nights at Sons of Kent Brewery once a month. As well, Rockathon, another fundraiser for Rise House, returns May 4 to the beer hall.

“We have a bunch of local bands that will be playing at Sons of Kent all day. It’s a really fun day,” Caron said. “Entry is by donation. We usually have a really good turnout.”
There will also be a silent auction that day as well.

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