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Keeping alive a legacy of love


Until recently, Casa Ampara did not have a problem with advanced education--the girls at the orphanage never expected to receive any more schooling than what they already had.

Few had even finished secondary school. And those who did generally left the Casa fully unprepared for the outside world.

The girls lacked vocational skills; the most unfortunate didn’t even have family, money, or a place to live. They became desperate and did what they had to do to survive. Many became pregnant within six months of landing on the streets.

Last July, local resident Jacques Fafard lost his beloved wife, Fran, suddenly, leaving him to deal with the grief of having to carry on without her.

In an effort to lessen the pain caused by her sudden passing, Fafard and his children decided to honour Fran’s memory by requesting that people make in memoriam donations directly to the Casa Ampara Orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico.

“This is a girl’s orphanage under the care of the Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge,” Fafard said. “[The orphanage] depends entirely on charity and donations to operate.

“The Mexican government funds boys’ orphanages but contributes nothing towards girls’ orphanages, apparently dictated by Mexican cultural mores,” he added.

The previous winter, the Fafards had spent three months at the Tropic Star R.V. seniors’ resort in Pharr, Texas.

“It is there that we met Claude and Adele Vermette, an energetic couple from Ste Agathe, Man.,” he explained. “Claude and Adele annually raise funds, collect food goods, toys, and clothing in their own community and while in Texas, manage to get these much-needed provisions across the Mexican border to help these underprivileged children.”

In fact, many residents of Tropic Star also provided, on a weekly basis, materials, labour, and time to help with repairs on the orphanage.

Invited by their new friends to spend the day at the orphanage, the Fafards jumped at the chance.

“There we met several of the sisters as well as most of the 50 girls in their care,” Fafard recalled. “The girls ranged in age from infants to 16-year-old teenagers.

“Most of the younger ones had been abandoned by their parents who could not afford to feed and cloth them,” he said.

Sometimes reclaiming their children when their financial position improved, many of the girls often were reduced to a life of prostitution in order to make ends meet until the time when their family would be able to retrieve them.

“Needless to say, our visit was an experience we were not soon to forget and had resolved that we, too, wanted to get involved in this worthy cause when we had returned to Texas,” Fafard said.

“It was not to be so the decision to choose this charity in Fran’s memory was easily reached as she had, in her heart, adopted each and every one of these unfortunate children,” he remarked.

After Fran’s death, the Fafard family began to receive donations from friends despite the fact many of them were unfamiliar with the charity. The money received was put directly towards the further education of these children.

“Hopefully [this money] will provide them with a meaningful and productive life,” Fafard said.

The gift was the last thing Fran was able to do to show the undying love she had for these girls, and the love others felt for a woman with such a generous heart.

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