On January 12 of 2010, a 7-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, its epicenter near the capitol of Port-au-Prince. Electricity, water, and communication infrastructure was destroyed, which hampered rescue operations and humanitarian aid. By January 24, fifty-two aftershock quakes had followed, and 150,000 people had died. 250,000 homes were destroyed, along with 30,000 commercial buildings.
Pastor Miguel Castillo gathered up the men from his church, Iglesia Fundamento Biblico (IFB) in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. They procured trucks, collected and loaded them with supplies, and they made the dangerous journey to Haiti where they set up a medical triage clinic.
While there, some pastors that Miguel had worked with in the past found him and asked he and his men to help a group of children whose parents had been killed. They helped gather them up, and gave them medical treatment, since some of them had been injured in the earthquake. The area they were in was rampant with looting and violence, so Miguel and his men moved the children to a safer area that had not suffered as great a damage.
A house was procured, the lease was paid, and with the Haitian pastors help, reliable teachers were hired to care for and instruct the children. With the help of several international Christian organizations such as Children’s Hunger Fund, Orphan’s Heart, and the Buckner Foundation, the children were given food, water, medical supplies, shoes, and uniforms. Pastor Miguel named the new home the Shekinah Orphanage, and continued to travel there every two to three months.
By 2016, the number of children grew to 43. Then in October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti. In a matter of hours, winds had risen to 145 MPH. Torrential rains caused flooding that, with the winds, again destroyed 3,200 homes and displaced 15,000 people. Reuters News Service reported that 842 people had died. With the communication grid down and a key arterial bridge destroyed, relief efforts were severely hampered.
The children of Shekinah orphanage had been evacuated to higher ground in time, but the orphanage building was severely damaged. Most of their food, clothing, and other supplies had been washed away, and what was left was looted. Miguel and several men again made it to the orphanage to repair the building enough to be used, but it was apparent they needed to rebuild. With the help of some individuals in Canada, the U.S, and in the D.R., the money was raised and the work commenced the next month. The property was purchased and the new facility was finished and dedicated in December 2016.
Due to the number of children, a second building is needed with toilets, sinks, and showers. Pastor Castillo is working to have this money raised and the building finished by the end of this year.
And now, after all of the upheaval, danger, provision, and construction, three of those little girls who were rescued after the earthquake in 2010 and grew up in the Shekinah orphanage are graduating from their secondary school and want to attend university. One young woman wants to study medicine, another wants to become a nurse, and the third young lady wants to study law. Pastor Miguel is attempting to get permission from the Dominican government to allow the girls to attend the university in Santo Domingo. The tuition will be less expensive there, and he believes he can arrange a scholarship with the university. While they work toward their degrees, the girls will attend and be cared for by pastor Miguel’s church, Iglesia Fundamento Biblico. The girls have expressed a desire to return to Haiti to benefit their community as well as the Shekinah orphanage where they grew up.