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Esperandieu Cenat, a young man from Petite Riviere de Artibonite, was able to achieve his dream of attending high school with the support of a religious community, the Little Brothers of the Incarnation. Another order, the Xaverian Brothers, helped him pursue another dream: attending college. Because of the help and support he received, Esperandieu knew he wanted to give back someday. The nature of that wish took form when he began volunteering at an orphanage; he resolved that if he ever finished college, he would open one in his hometown.

After Esperandieu’s university was destroyed in the devastating January 2010 earthquake, he and two classmates were given the opportunity to complete their education at Siena College in Loudonville, New York with the help of Dr. Tom Coohill, a professor at Siena. As Esperandieu made friends at Siena and nearby St. Pius X Church, word spread of his dream of returning to Haiti and opening an orphanage. The pastor at St. Pius at the time was Father Michael Farano and he gathered a group of parishioners to hear Esperandieu’s story. Soon afterward, a nonprofit foundation was formed for the purpose of raising the funds to make Esperandieu’s dream a reality.

St. Francis Xavier Haitian Orphanage opened its doors in 2011 and immediately became home to several children who had lost their parents or whose families were unable to care for them. Each child brought a heart-wrenching story of hardship and hope for a better life. Several came from the mountains, walking for hours for the chance to realize their dreams for the future.

Today, the Orphanage houses and takes care of the daily needs of 18 children, most of whom are going to school and receiving medical care for the first time in their lives. Every day they give thanks for the blessings they have received, and the caring people whose generosity makes their new lives possible.