Haitian orphan remembered by North Texas advocate

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by JASON WHITELY / WFAA-TV

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

wfaa.com

Posted on January 19, 2010 at 12:08 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 19 at 6:52 PM

McKINNEY -- Michael Brewer, who has spent the last decade caring for Haitian street kids, never even knew the last name of one of his children.

"He had come up when no one was around, real quietly, and said, do I think there's a chance I would ever be able to send him to school?," Brewer recollected while fighting back tears. "That's all he was interested in."

The boy was known as Chelo.

He was 13.

Brewer said the child was orphaned at age five after his mother sold him as a servant.

"She sold him because she couldn't support him. Couldn't afford to feed him. She can't even feed herself. So she sold him to a family and they used him as domestic help," Brewer said.

When the earthquake struck Port-au-Prince last Tuesday, Michael Brewer was in North Texas, raising money for his orphanage -- and worrying.

Finally, over the weekend, Brewer's older orphans found a phone and contacted him.

Chelo did not survive, they said.

He rushed the other kids out of the orphanage then darted back to retrieve something, the kids relayed by phone. As he started to shoot out the door a second time, a kitchen wall collapsed and crushed him.

Of Brewer's 75 orphans who lived in shoddy dwellings, Brewer said it's a miracle only two died.

Ziggy Charles, 13, suffered a badly injured foot during the quake.

Three of his buddies at the orphanage scooped him up and delivered him to a makeshift hospital where a security guard ordered him to stay outside on the lawn.

But instead of leaving him, Brewer found out, the three orphans pooled their money to buy $15 worth of bus tickets so they could transport him to Santo Domingo in the neighboring  Dominican Republic.

Doctors at a hospital there amputated his foot.

"The problem [is]," Brewer continued, "I can't get money to them right now because the Western Unions have no cash to give. I was told there's one Western Union functioning right now, but they ran out of money."

North Texans have donated $4,000 to Brewer since News 8 first profiled his struggle last week.

Brewer is returning with it this week to rent a new orphanage, while remembering Chelo -- a 13-year-old few knew, but a person Brewer cannot forget.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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