Formula for Life is a philanthropic, international humanitarian effort organized by a team of University of Saint Francis students who, for the last 7 years, have been committed to improve the nutrition of orphans in Haiti. The volunteer-driven events raise funds for the purchase and delivery of infant formula, powdered milk, vitamins and other requested foods.
Formula for Life primarily serves the children at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Orphanage in northern Haiti. The orphanage was founded by Father Andre Sylvestre, a priest, who says, "God filled my life with miracles for a reason. I believe the reason is to help the unfortunate children who cannot afford to go to school and have nobody to take care of them." Although his education includes a Master Degree in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University, Father Andre had long felt a calling to start an orphanage...and not just any institutionalized orphanage, but rather a place "where the orphans can have the privilege to feel loved, to have access to education and healthcare, to hear the good news of the gospel, to learn how to shape their own destiny.
"In short, I (Fr. Andre) would like to give them a safe place where they can develop all the dimensions of their lives."
Father Andre developed a vision for his future orphanage and patiently waited on God's direction. And when that message came - in the form of a 4-year old boy named Deluxon – it was clear to Father it was time to begin this vocation.
Deluxon met Father on the streets of Haiti and took him to his 'home'...
Deluxon's parents died in the 2010 earthquake and young Deluxon was living with his two younger sisters under a piece of tin. Deluxon became the first of Fr. Andre's orphans and has since been joined by 23 more children who have lost both parents to disease, starvation, natural disasters or abandonment.
In addition to nutrition, the orphans have another immediate need, namely expansion of their residential facilities. Currently 24 orphans are closely living in a rental home...the children sleep in double bunk beds and each bedroom is at full capacity. Fr. Andre has 15 acres of land and a vision for an entire orphanage complex that would provide a home for 100+ orphans – in addition to a vocational school, library, home for a congregation of sisters and community resources, namely a health clinic, chapel, and literacy center.
The Formula for Life team is planning to secure the funding for the first residential home on the new land at a cost of $50,000. The team realizes this is an ambitious effort, but they are a determined and creative group and in a short time have raised over half of what is needed.
"This is the first phase in a long-term construction effort to build a home-like orphanage that can provide for 100 or more orphans," said Amanda Pedro, this year's Formula for Life student leader. "Father Andre is a visionary and wants to create a better Haiti, one orphan at a time."
The university has established a giving link on its website to receive electronic donations from community members who wish to help. Donations can be made at https://commerce.cashnet.com/sf-fw-in; the university will issue receipts for tax purposes.
The 5th Formula for Life walk/run and silent auction will be April 14, 2013 and will continue to provide funding for food for the orphanage until it reaches its goal of self-sufficiency.