4/23/2014 7:08:19 PM

Hope is Helping Haiti Heal

Monday, October 21, 2013

By Mary Barrett '14

Esperandieu Cenat’s determination was amongst the few things left unharmed by the devastating earthquake that ravaged Haiti back in 2010. Cenat’s dream of returning hope to Haiti became a reality after he finished his education at Siena College. He is now both the founder and director of the St. Francis Xavier Haitian Orphanage.

The orphanage might never have opened had Cenat not been accepted to finish his studies at Siena College. “In accepting Esperandieu, Siena kick started everything,” said President of the St. Francis Xavier Haitian Orphanage Foundation Fran Bouchard.

When Professor of Physics Tom Coohill, Ph.D. and his wife, retired Professor of Creative Arts Patricia Coohill, Ph.D. heard that an earthquake had destroyed much of the country, they wanted to help. They asked that Cenat and two other Haitian men be given the opportunity to finish their education at Siena, a proposition that was immediately accepted. “After the earthquake I lost many friends, I lost hope. I was given hope when Siena helped me by offering me a scholarship to study business,” said Cenat.

Appreciative of the opportunity he was given, Cenat set out to provide opportunities for others. He began to discuss plans to give back by helping people in his homeland. “Siena gave me an opportunity, but I needed to bring hope back to Haiti,” he said.

During his time at Siena, Cenat attended St. Pius X Catholic Church. He spoke with parishioners who helped him put his plan into action. With donations from St. Pius X, Siena College and various private donors, Cenat secured the funding to open an orphanage in his hometown of Petite Riviere de l' Artibonite.

When the orphanage first opened, eight children were housed and given meals, beds and the opportunity to attend school. Fortunately, the orphanage has received enough financial support to continue to both run and grow. Over the summer, an organization called “Let’s Share the Sun,” installed solar panels that allow the orphanage to have a computer, printer, refrigerator and lights. Today, the orphanage is home to 18 children.

Last Saturday, Siena hosted one of the orphanage’s two main fundraising receptions. Siena College President Fr. Kevin Mullen '75, O.F.M. is proud of the College's connection to this worthy cause. “We see it as a good model as a College and hope that more of our students will get involved in it,” said Mullen.

Cenat’s experience at Siena College helped him develop the skills he’d need to open an orphanage and it restored his hope for a brighter future in Haiti. Now he is helping 18 children grow and learn. His new wish is for more Siena students to become involved in his mission of bringing hope to the children of Haiti.

Contact: Ken Jubie
Contact E-mail: communications@siena.edu

Back to Siena News.