As the capital of Haiti, Port-au-Prince commemorates the fourteenth anniversary of the devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12th, 2010, John Hicks, Owner of The Hicks Law Firm, takes a moment to reflect on a different anniversary. This partnership has spanned 14 years and brings hope to the lives of many in the aftermath of the tragedy.
In 2010, shortly before the earthquake, Hicks crossed paths with Marie José Poux, the Founder & Executive Director of Foyer Espoir Pour Les Enfants (FEPE), also known as the Hope for Haitian Children Foundation, Inc (HFHCF.) This non-profit organization was established in 2009 to provide aid and support to abandoned and orphaned children in Haiti. Marie José, a Haitian native who settled in New Orleans, had a lifelong dream of creating a museum of Haitian art. However, after retiring as a nurse, she chose a different path - selling all of the artworks and returning to Haiti to start an orphanage.
The earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12th, 2010, was an unprecedented tragedy, claiming the lives of over 220,000 people, injuring more than 300,000, and resulting in up to 4,000 amputations. The impact was staggering, with three million people - equivalent to 30 percent of the population directly affected. Nearly 1.3 million individuals found themselves residing in temporary shelters across over 400 spontaneous sites in the Port-au-Prince area. Additionally, over 600,000 people sought refuge in outlying areas, including around 300,000 children. Among the affected population, children became the focus of an urgent humanitarian crisis, with almost 1.5 million directly impacted by the disaster.
Girls and boys, constituting nearly half of the population, emerged as one of the most vulnerable groups, requiring ongoing assistance and protection. In response to this children's emergency, HFHCF, under the leadership of Marie José, intensified its efforts to provide aid and support. The foundation became a beacon of hope, working tirelessly to collect general supplies for both the school and the orphanage. From clothing and shoes to staples, first aid, linens, school and office supplies, to even building and electrical supplies, HFHCF launched annual collection drives to meet the diverse needs of those affected by the earthquake.
As the devastation unfolded, the orphanage under Marie José's care emerged as a critical haven for many children who found themselves without families. The operational continuity of the orphanage in the face of such adversity speaks volumes about Marie José's unwavering commitment and personal sacrifices. Even during times when community support was insufficient, she delved into her own resources to provide for the children. The pressing need for a broader community effort to sustain the well-being of these children is evident, and HFHCF continually calls for assistance and participation in their ongoing initiatives.
Unlike the adoption process commonly seen in the U.S., Haitian orphanages often become a second home for children growing up in poverty, fostering the next generation of Haitians.
John Hicks recounts his first visit to the orphanage, organized with a law school friend, and with his then-fiancée following the 2010 earthquake. “The experience changed our lives,” says Hicks. “We started going back regularly, witnessing the growth of these children. These kids, whom we’ve known since infancy, have become a part of our extended family.”
Ezra son of John Hicks with the children at HFHCF
Reflecting on Haiti’s history, Hicks emphasizes the resilience of the Haitian people, who endured and triumphed adversity. “The Haitians have an incredible spirit,” Hicks states, “and the history of the country is both captivating and inspiring.”
Marie José Poux, the driving force behind this non-profit organization, has been tirelessly devoted to the orphanage. The orphanage, operational for several years, has relied on her unwavering commitment and personal contributions during times of insufficient community support. Hicks acknowledges the urgent need for a greater community effort to ensure the sustained well-being of the children under Marie José and the orphanage’s care.
In light of the anniversary of this impactful partnership, John Hicks urges individuals and communities to consider contributing to the Hope For Haitian Children Foundation. In his words, “Every donation, no matter how small, can make a significant difference in providing a brighter future for these children.”
Hicks remains dedicated to the organization's mission to nurture the next generation of Haitians, ensuring they grow up with love, attention, and a strong connection to their roots, awaiting safer times to return to Haiti.
Contact: John Hicks
Email: [email protected]