Ebenson Verdule, ’14, will move to Haiti this fall with a clear mission — to provide hope to thousands of orphaned children living on the streets of Port-de-Paix.
Verdule, a civil engineering graduate, started the nonprofit Mercy Land Orphanage, Inc. to provide housing, a school and a clinic for orphans in his native city.
“These children have no hope of an education, no hope for health care and really no hope at all,” Verdule said.
He knows this because he was one of them.
Verdule was fortunate to be rescued off the streets by an aunt. He started school for the first time at age 12 and was sent to the United States a couple years later. Education offered hope for Verdule, a quick study who graduated from high school with honors.
At UNF, Verdule realized the engineering skills he developed would serve his mission well. Progress has been steady on the 30-acre tract of land Verdule purchased in Port-de-Paix. He has completed much of the project design and construction himself with the help of UNF students — some of whom joined him on working trips to Haiti. The clinic was designed as a civil engineering capstone senior project, and construction management students are currently converting decommissioned shipping containers donated by Crowley into dormitories.
Verdule wants to minimize the construction’s impact on the environment while making the most of funds raised. Buildings are planned near the water to cool the structures and will utilize energy efficient components, such as solar energy panels and composting toilets. Future plans call for capturing and utilizing methane gas for power.
The orphanage will be built to house up to 500 children providing them shelter, food and an education. But more than anything, he wants to offer hope.
“I want them to feel as valuable as they are.”
For more information on Mercy Land Orphanage, Inc., visit mercylandorphanage.org.