The orphanage Len and Cherylann Gengel built as a living legacy for their daughter Britney is alive and well in southwest Haiti.
Seventy-one children call the Be Like Brit Orphanage home. Many of their parents lost their lives like Britney in the 2010 earthquake.
“Our goal was to always keep her spirit alive in Haiti and that is what we have been doing these past 12-plus years,” said Len Gengel, Britney’s dad.
But the orphanage is just the beginning. They’ve also built housing for young adults on the property so as the children grow up, they have a place to live. And now the foundation is working to bring some of those young adults to Delray Beach for a college education.
“For every year that we give our children education in the United States, they will contractually give us a year back in Haiti,” said Gengel. “The ultimate goal for Be Like Brit foundation is to have our kids for generations to come to actually run Brit’s home. Who better?”
Gengel makes time to come to the memorial created at Lynn University to honor his daughter and the three other students and two professors who died in Haiti. They were on a trip in the island nation volunteering when the earthquake hit.
“When I come to Lynn University, it’s a place that Brit loved. She wanted to graduate from there she wanted to go back to Haiti and start an orphanage herself,” said Gengel.
Gengel isn’t blind to the political news and economic crises crippling Haiti, but he always has hope.
“Right now Haiti does not have a functioning government, and life is very hard and very tough,” said Gengel. “But our children our children are growing they are learning they are thriving.”