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Published: Wednesday, 8/25/2010

Recital to aid Haitian orphanage with ties to Sylvania

BLADE STAFF

Maya Bennardo, a violinist who is a senior at Oberlin Conservatory, will perform at a concert Sunday at the Sylvania United Church of Christ to benefit an orphanage at which a Sylvania Township resident taught English two months ago, and to which that resident plans to return in October for three months.

Admission to the recital, which starts at 4 p.m., will be free, but donations to the orphanage will be collected.

Bonnie Kangasniemi, who taught English at the orphanage as part of a relief group's visit in June, said she has taken a leave from her part-time teaching job at West Side Montessori Center and resigned a catering-coordinator job at a local Panera Bread restaurant so she can return there for three months this fall.

About 35 of the thousands of children throughout Port-au-Prince who lost their families in a Jan. 12 earthquake live in Mr. Robert's orphanage, she said.

"Our current goal is to build a new school and living quarters for the children," Ms. Kangasniemi said.

"The orphanage does not have any reliable source of regular support and we hope that this concert will therefore help Mr. Robert and his staff to meet the basic needs of the children, giving them a more secure place to sleep, and an opportunity to grow academically and develop like any child deserves."

Ms. Kangasniemi said she is exhausting her "meager nest-egg" to cover her living expenses during the journey, but it is the children who "have taught me what sacrificing is all about.

"They have lost their parents, their world is turned upside down, and they still manage to smile and show love and compassion," Ms. Kangasniemi said.

- David Patch



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