Each month, Coast Monthly chats with locals who are making a difference in ways big and small.
Galveston-born Michael Patterson is a managing director in the oil and gas industry. After an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, Sean Forrest, a former work-colleague and missionary, founded the charity Haiti 180 to build an orphanage and to help restore that island nation’s destroyed infrastructure. Patterson was recruited as a volunteer.
Patterson first arrived in Port-au-Prince four years ago and was confronted by children wallowing through heaps of rubbish looking for food, in competition with wild pigs.
“But apart from basic resources, the children are desperately seeking guidance and company from adult mentors,” he said. “When walking down a street, one never seems to have a free hand, a row of children is constantly vying for that simple human touch.”
Patterson has been traveling to Haiti every year since that first visit. Haiti 180 has recently finished a home for the elderly and is now busy building a clinic. One of the charity’s missions is to ensure sustainability of the project, by employing local work force, teachers, builders and care givers. But hands-on help from outsiders and their donations is still very much needed and appreciated.
“Watching the children of the orphanage grow up keeps my eyes on the important things in life,” Patterson said. “We have so much and they have so little. And still, they are the happier for it. That is why I care.”