Stephanie Shuptrine, owner of The Shuptrine Gallery in Highlands, visited Haiti in September and spent some time at Brit’s Home, a home for 66 less fortunate children in Haiti. During the month she spent in there, Shuptrine painted seven paintings of two of the children staying at the home. Brit’s Home Executive Director Len Gengel spoke to supporters on Oct. 18 about the facility in Grande Goave, Haiti. All proceeds from the sale of Shuptrine’s paintings go towards Brit’s Home.
“I met the children the first time I was there and fell in love,” said Shuptrine. “I had to go back and paint them. I’m doing this because I want to give back and do something to show people what he’s (Gengel) done there.”
Brit’s Home is part of Be Like Brit and provides the children with housing, three meals a day, education, health care, and employs 100 people in the area.
“We have a holistic approach to raise the next generation of leaders in Haiti,” said Gengel. “There’s no way in the world we can’t create jobs for our children through technology. They can compete on the world stage making U.S. dollars in Haiti.”
Gengel added that after 30 years in the building business he saw a desperate need for housing in Haiti. Over six years Be Like Brit has built homes for over 100 families in Grand Goave. BLB can build a home from gravel to roof in five days said Gengel.
“I remember having to teach this one family how to use a key,” said Gengel. “Handing a family that key, you’ve changed some lives.”
Brit’s Home came to be after Gengel’s daughter, Britany Gengel, visited Haiti on a college service trip. On the second day of her trip in 2010, Haiti was hit with a powerful earthquake. The last text she sent to her mother reads “They love us so much and everyone is so happy. They love what they have and they work so hard to get nowhere, yet they’re all so appreciative. I want to move here and start and orphanage myself.”
The 33 boys and 33 girls at Brit’s Home are symbolic of the 33 days it took to recover Britney’s body, she was 19.
“You think about the orphanage and all those children,” said Highlands resident Jane Chalker after looking at Shuptrine’s portraits of the children. “Children are just left on the doorstep of hospitals there. I always think here in Highlands we have so many things that help people but in Haiti they just have us, they don’t have those other resources.”
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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