Monroe County woman starting orphanage in Haiti sheds light on process, how some skirt rules

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A fire at a Haitian orphanage which resulted in the death of 15 children last Thursday has many asking questions, including one woman who is in the process of starting her own children’s home. That orphanage was operated by the controversial, Scranton-based Church of Bible Understanding.

The investigation into the fire continues. Wednesday Eyewitness News reached out to officials from the Haitian Embassy in Washington D.C. about the investigation.

We were told the Church of Bible Understanding would get back to us. Eyewitness News also spoke with a local woman who is in the process of setting up an orphanage in Haiti.

The fire in Haiti that killed 15 children has people around the world demanding answers. One of those asking questions is Herline Raphael from Stroudsburg.

She is in the process of setting up an orphanage in Haiti. She visits the country several times a year.

“A lot of those facilities are not what you would call quote, unquote legal orphanages,” said Raphael who started the group Helping Hands and Beyond.

She says starting an orphanage in Haiti the right way is a very complex process.

“We have been going through the process ourselves for the past year,” Raphael said. “Literally a year and a half. The process includes, first we have to apply to the national country where department of social services, they have to review our documents.”

Raphael says the Haitian authorities have been very strict with her group.

“We have to get social service department to come in for inspection to look at the house before we get certification for approval to have children come in,” Raphael explained.

She also says her organization must also prove that professional services will be provided to the children.

“It’s required we have documents for all different health professionals,” Raphael said. “We have psychiatrist, psychologists, physicians, nurses and also home director.”

Raphael hopes to have her orphanage set up by June.

The I-Team reached out to the Haitian embassy in Washington, D.C. to talk about the orphanage run by the Church of Bible Understanding to see if the church went through the same process. We received an email saying they would get back to us but we have not yet got another response.

Church officials have not been accused of any wrongdoing in connection with the fire.

Eyewitness News again reached out to a spokesperson for the church. We received the same statement several days ago, expressing sadness at the loss of life but saying they could not comment on the investigation.

Senator Bob Casey has called for a full investigation into the fire.

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