Jill I. Solimini reports:
The statistics are grim. Ten percent of Haiti’s children die before age 1. Fifty percent don’t live to see the age of 15. Each day, 400 children die.
Anthony and Tammy DiPenti of Mason have made it their mission to bring to light the plight of the people of this country – the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Their introduction to the Haitian people began 21/2 years ago when a friend invited Anthony to join a mission trip. The timing was good as the couple’s three daughters – Laura, a nursing student at Galen College and a patient care assistant at West Chester Medical Center; Hannah, a sophomore communications major at the University of Cincinnati; and Cecily, who will be a freshman pre-med major at the University of Kentucky next fall – are nearly grown.
“I really felt a calling,” says Anthony, who works in the health care information technology field. “I knew it was time to start giving back.”
His first trip to Haiti occurred less than a year after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake killed 230,000 people and left another 1.3 million homeless. The scene he encountered when landing in Port au Prince was chaotic – rubble and tent cities dotted the capital. The devastation he encountered in the more rural areas was even more alarming.
“Cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, malaria – they are all rampant,” Anthony says. “But I didn’t let it bother me, because I knew I was there to serve.”