At the age of 67, Marion Austin retired from 20+ years of service with the US military as a Diet Therapist. Determined not to “just sit around,” Marion embarked on her first trip to Haiti at the urging of her grand-daughter Amy. Marion enjoyed the people so much that she began considering full-time missionary service in Haiti.
After much prayer, Marion decided to go to work in Haiti full time. After spending two years helping to meet the nutritional needs of over 2,000 children at a large orphanage, Marion was deeply compelled to start her own orphanage in a very needy area of Port-Au-Prince. There were so many children without homes that Marion decided to take a step to help. Today, as a result, the organization Marion began with the cooperation of Haitian couple Dr. Jacob and Claudette Bernard, Hope for the Children of Haiti (HFC), has cared for over 60 children who are without either one or both parents. Many of the children were actually rescued from local hospitals suffering from severe malnutrition. HFC also operates a school for both the children in the orphanage as well as for many children in the surrounding community. In a country without sufficient public education, HFC provides a quality education to a number of children who would never have had the opportunity to attend school. HFC subsidizes over two thirds of the actual cost of the education these children receive.
Marion’s time in Haiti was not without hardship. She watched firsthand the coup which removed “Baby Doc Duvalier” in 1986, battled breast cancer, and experienced several other traumas. Finally, at age 84, Marion was forced to help with orphanage operations mainly from the U.S. but entrusted most of the details to the Haitian staff. Marion believed deeply in employing and empowering the Haitian people. The orphanage only employs Haitians and currently has a staff of over 60 men and women who care for and educate the children. Jean Alexandre works as the on-site Director of the orphanage and school. Marion knew that these Haitian men and women provide an important role model to the children, showing them that each of their lives has great potential. Marion also believed that these children can each make a significant difference in the future of Haiti.
Marion’s last trip was in June 2003, when she was 84. Marion not only has had an incredible impact on the lives of these children but is also a wonderful role model to both women and men. What an incredible story proving that we too can make a difference in our world—at any age!
On December 21, 2005, Marion Austin went to be with the Lord. What a legacy she has left behind!