Haitian Outreach founder devoted to children

  • Follow Your Faith

For decades, Eleanor Workman has been called "Mom." It's the name family, friends, even those who know her only professionally use to describe the woman who has given her life to serving Haiti's orphans.

Eleanor Workman  Special
Special
Eleanor Workman

Workman, 91, doesn't travel much anymore. But she comes to Augusta each October. On Sunday, Workman and representatives from Christian Haitian Outreach will appear at Broadway Baptist Church.

The annual program raises support for the ministry, which Workman founded in 1974. Christian Haitian Outreach relies entirely on donations to support its two orphanages, its school and a clinic in Haiti.

A dozen local churches collaborate for the event, which is held at houses of worship each year.

Hundreds of people come to hear of God's work in Haiti, said Sandra Harley, a member of the planning committee. With the devastation left by January's 7.0 earthquake, interest in this year's program could be even greater.

"There's this long-term relationship this area has had with Haiti," Harley said. "We hope it'll grow as people respond."

Churches in Augusta have long been faithful to the outreach, said Gail Davidson, the director of operations.

"The people there just absolutely love Mom. This is a trip she really looks forward to every year," she said. "We're thankful for it."

The outreach is supported by more than 100 churches across the United States and a handful in Canada.

Currently, 74 children are in the orphanage in Mariani, Haiti. The group fared well in the earthquake, Davidson said, adding that conditions elsewhere are not as good.

"There are many, many children homeless still. We're doing all we can," she said.

Eleven children from the orphanage have been adopted since the quake, but they were all adoptions started before the disaster struck. It's nearly impossible to make progress on adoptions at the moment.

"The entire system is shut down," she said.

The same is true not just in orphanages, but also in relief programs throughout most of the areas hard-hit by the quake, said Cindy Rogers, a missionary to Haiti.

"Everything is just really slow," she said. "There's just not much happening at all. So little progress is being made. You can't even understand how overwhelmed everyone is. It creates this enormous gridlock."

Rogers and her husband, Donnie, lead Life Ministries International, a nondenominational church in Martinez. They have lived and worked in Haiti since the 1980s and once did consulting work for Workman and her ministry.

On Tuesday, Cindy Rogers returned from her fifth trip to Haiti since the earthquake. Thirteen people, including six from the Augusta area, offered construction help and medical care for a week.

"In Port-au-Prince, tents are being blown away by hurricane-like winds," she said. "The prison got broken into and prisoners were released ... again. There was fear on the streets. There were mudslides ... again."

Piles of rubble remain in the streets, and as memories of the earthquake fade it's harder to rally support, Rogers said.

"We're soliciting people to go with us," she said. "It's hard to keep up momentum. It's easy to forget Haiti."

Lately, that has meant they've had to ration their time and supplies.

"We look and see these needs and have to say no. It's so painful," Rogers said. "There are legitimate needs, and here we are, having to say no."

If you go

WHAT: Eleanor "Mom" Workman, of Christian Haitian Outreach, travels to Augusta for an annual program

WHEN: 2:30 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Broadway Baptist Church, 2323 Barton Chapel Road

LEARN MORE: (706) 790-8185

CHRISTIAN HAITIAN OUTREACH

Workman founded Christian Haitian Outreach in 1974 to support the children, orphans and poor in Haiti. She has grown the organization, a small startup with very little money, into two orphanages, a school, a clinic, church and training center.

Christian Haitian Outreach is based in Miami. Learn more at christianhaitianoutreach.org.


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