'Miracle Village' a Refuge for Haiti Quake Survivors

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Two years after Haiti's devastating earthquake, hundreds of thousands of displaced people are still living in tent cities.

However, many amputees and other victims are finding new life in what used to be an orphanage.

One man known as Fritz lost his right leg during Haiti's powerful 2010 earthquake. He's rebuilding his life in the Miracle Village, a self-sustaining settlement for amputees and other earthquake survivors.

Love A Child Steps In

The village is the latest project by Florida pastors Bobby and Sherry Burnette, who moved to Haiti 20 years ago. They founded the Love a Child Center and began taking in orphans and running a school.

But when the earthquake shook Haiti's capital, they couldn't ignore the dead and wounded filling the streets of Port au Prince.

"The very next morning, Sherry and I were going down into Port au Prince with our trucks, with our staff, picking people off the streets," Bobby Burnette said.

The Burnettes quickly converted their orphanage into a clinic. Hundreds of foreign doctors and medical personnel arrived to treat the wounded who had flooded the grounds.

"Because they've heard that this is the place where they're going to get care," said Hilarie Cranmer, assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, of the people who have come for help.

"We know that people who suffer horrible tragedies need peace and quiet, love and support," she explained.

"And it's not just medicines. It's for the soul as well," she said. "Somebody last night came when they brought 50 patients last night. They said this looks like an oasis in the desert."

One Little Girl's Story

One patient was 2-year-old Maria Ange. Her older sister was cooking when the earthquake struck. She grabbed the child and began to run.

"My heart was beating so fast. I heard a lot of noise," Siltana, Marie's sister, said.

Sherry Burnett recalled what she was told happened next.

"With the earthquake shaking violently under her feet and everything growing dark, the baby Maria Ange flew out of her arms and landed right in that pot of boiling water," she said.

"After I saw her burnt face I was scared. I was really, really scared," Siltana said.

For Francimene, the girls' mother -- tragedy followed tragedy. Her husband, a construction worker, was killed in the disaster. Their house was destroyed, and now one of her daughters might not survive.

A friend took Francimene to the Love a Child hospital. They sent Marie to a shipboard operating room for skin grafts.

Then the Love a Child ministry gave Francimene and her children a place to stay on orphanage property, along with hundreds of other survivors.

Permanent Village of Homes

But tents might not be protect them during hurricane season. So just months after the earthquake, the Love a Child staff and volunteers began clearing 62 acres to build an entire village of permanent homes.

"We're building 50 houses. Three pads have been put in today and yesterday. Building it to a Florida hurricane code so that it doesn't blow away," Mark Ostrander, ministry director, explained.

"(The) ground is termite pre-treated. The lumber that's going in has a different chemical for pre-treatment, so we're really happy and confident that these are going to last a long time," he said.

The first houses went to amputees, and over the past two years, 400 more have been built.

Today 3,000 refugees live in their own houses in Miracle Village.

Francimene and her family live in a safe home and a loving community. They have playgrounds, basketball courts, a 24-hour medical clinic, and schools, along with the orphanage.

Every family cultivates a garden plot to grow food for their families and extra food to sell at market.

Future projects include a church and a public marketplace where residents can sell their crafts and produce.

Miracle Village is a miracle for hundreds of families that survived Haiti's deadliest earthquake.

*Published Mar. 23, 2012

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CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.