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Utah charity is extending its reach

Group runs orphanage in Haiti, plans one in Mexico

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A bundle of blankets lay on the floor in the hallway in the general hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Parting the blankets, the woman found a newborn baby still covered in birth fluids and attached to the placenta, left to starve and die in a corner. The mother had died in childbirth two days earlier.

This and other stories of despair and heartbreak happen every day — but these stories can change when someone steps forward to make a difference.

The starving baby found by the director of A Child's Hope Foundation, an Orem-based nonprofit organization, was given needed medical attention and eventually taken to the charity's orphanage in Timache, Haiti, and adopted by a Wisconsin family, according to organization's Web site.

Now, the foundation is taking another step to help abandoned and orphaned children. It is planning to open a second orphanage, this one in northern Mexico.

"A lot of poor people come to the border area to cross because of (America's) good economy," said project manager Kent White. "Whenever you have a lot of situations where a lot of people are moving, you have a lot of children that are displaced as well."

The new orphanage will be located in San Antonio de las Minas, a community on the western coast of Mexico's Baja California region, about an hour from the U.S. border. Orphanages in the area are often overcrowded, understaffed and lack enough food, beds, clothing and medical care.

"It's a big deal right now because there have been so few resources allocated to taking care of babies," White said, adding that most orphanages in the area don't even accept infants.

Infant abandonment in the area is high, he said. One temporary government transition home visited by the foundation's leadership had just two caretakers caring for 37 infants, with others helping out during feeding times. White said because of this high caregiver-to-baby ratio, the babies don't get the one-on-one attention they need.

The orphanage will be dedicated to the care of infants and toddlers and will facilitate domestic adoption to Mexican nationals, taking care of children until they can find a loving family.

At the foundation's orphanage in Haiti, the caregiver ratio is one to every four children, compared to 10 children to every caregiver at other local orphanages.

The individual attention makes the difference: White said the children are cleaner, healthier, attend preschool and get three meals a day.

The Mexico orphanage will thrive on volunteer caregivers, he said. Some local employees will be hired to aid volunteers.

"We wanted to open up more volunteer opportunities for individuals to participate" with the organization, White said.

An official site for the orphanage has yet to be chosen, he said, with at least two to three months before starting construction. The charity hopes to open the orphanage by the end of the year.

A Child's Hope Foundation was started in 2001 when founders Paul and Carolene Cook were asked by an adoption agency to donate to improve a poor orphanage in Haiti, which eventually led to the construction of the foundation's Haiti orphanage in 2004.

The foundation thrives on donations from private individuals as well as donations from many corporations and organizations, including Nu Skin, Prosper, Living Biography, Healing Hands for Haiti and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Humanitarian Services.

Adoption, volunteering opportunities and other information are available at the nonprofit's Web site, www.achildshopefoundation.org.

E-mail: asnyder@desnews.com