A plea.

(Jamie McMutrie and one of her kids)

There’s so much you don’t and probably won’t ever know about the rescue of Jamie and Ali McMutrie and dozens of Haitian orphans from Haiti following the earthquake in 2010.

My story of that week is full of so many little sub-stories I’ve never told, but they pale in comparison to the stories that Jamie and Ali have never told and may never be prepared to tell.

I’ve had so many meetings over drinks at Las Velas with them and I’ve only heard snippets here and there. Faces of victims that were torn away by falling debris. Women standing in the street immediately after the earthquake holding the babies they just birthed due to the force of the quake, umbilical cords still attached. Deciding which child gets a cracker as food supplies dwindled and dwindled. The sick realization that clean water had completely run out.

They don’t talk about those things much and when I interviewed both of them for Pittsburgh Magazine recently, I tried my best to pull those stories from them. Because I think we all need to know what they went through, how they suffered. How they changed. How much they are still very committed to Haiti’s families.

There were still questions that Ali couldn’t answer, the pain too fresh two years later.

I hope you’ll take a minute to read the interview with Ali, as Jamie’s will be posted next week. You probably haven’t a clue as to how much she has suffered emotionally over the last two years.

A snippet:

How did you and Jamie deal with the earthquake and aftermath differently from each other or did you both go through the same post-crisis emotions and stages?
This is all hindsight now. In most ways I don’t remember the first several months after the quake. Jamie on the other hand worked her butt off. She went to bed at 2 or 3 a.m. and was up by 5 a.m. She was always on the phone or on the computer, making connections, setting up meetings — both in Pittsburgh and in Haiti.  She would delegate and I would do what she said, but I was just going through the motions. I remember a day in May of that year where I felt like I woke up and was back in the real world. It is weird to be able to go back to that specific day and remember a feeling of waking up, when nothing significant caused that feeling. I guess it was just my time. I was ready to stop acting like everything was okay.  

What’s this you ask?

This is a picture of the children’s names that Jamie and Ali have ready to enroll in their program in Haiti, a program designed to stop parents from giving their children up to orphanages by helping them with daycare, education, food, medical supplies and more. That’s the list Ali keeps with her at all times as she works to raise the money for these kids.

See #14? Ylionise? Jamie saved her life earlier this year by working tirelessly to bring her to Florida for heart surgery. Ylionise is now back in Haiti and ready for school with Haitian Families First. She’s got the best eyes ever:

Jamie and Ali have 46 children they need scholarships for to be able to afford to take these children in so that their families can stay together. The cost to sponsor the scholarship for one of these kids is $15 a month, but dire circumstances means that Haitian Families First needs the entire tuition up front for these children. That’s a $180 donation for each child to enroll in the program.

Jamie and Ali went from caring for orphans to now trying to prevent children from ever becoming orphans simply because their parents couldn’t afford them anymore.

If you’d like to pay for the full year of education for one of Jamie and Ali’s kids in Haiti, you can do that by clicking here and scrolling down to the Give Once Now section. Once you donate the $180, you’ll be informed as to which child you have made it possible for Jamie and Ali to enroll.

Right now, since they launched the effort three days ago, 13 of their 46 children have been sponsored and are enrolled in the education program. That leaves 33 more kids that need us to step in and pay for them.

I’m going to sponsor a kid, and I’m asking you, if you can afford to, to sponsor one yourself, or get your friends together and everyone pitch in $20 to pay for one child to get a star next to his or her name.  I’m not telling you I sponsored a kid so you can pat me on the back. I’m telling you that I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

I’ll keep you updated via a graphic in the sidebar come Monday that will let you know how many more kids need to be paid for. Monday is also when Jamie’s interview will be published.

This is Yulnik, #6 on the list:

This is Fordlenson, #8:

Let’s see how many more kids we can help so that Ali can put a star next to their name too.

Thanks, Pittsburgh:

(Jamie takes Sednika to a doctor’s appointment at the hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti)

Haitian Families first is on Twitter, Facebook, and you can find them on Instagram under HaitianFamiliesFirst.


  1. Holly
    September 7, 2012 4:18 pm

    Those pictures do it everytime! Pittsburgh will get all those children sponsored, you can bet on it! I can’t wait to see who I get!

  2. Angela
    September 8, 2012 1:21 pm

    As an educator, I love this program, and how could I say, “no”? Thanks, as always, Ginny! I’m also excited to see what adorable baby-kins I’m helping. Thanks to the ladies for all of their hard work in Hati as well!

  3. Cassie
    September 8, 2012 5:50 pm

    I’m in for 15 a month. The picture of Fordlenson has a likeness to my boy. How can I not help them?

  4. Virginia
    September 8, 2012 6:45 pm

    Thanks Cassie, Angela and Holly! So much.

  5. Noelle
    September 8, 2012 8:02 pm

    Ginny, is there a way to space out the payments? I could easily do maybe 3 or 4 installations with a signed pledge agreement. I bet others could to.

  6. Lin Morgan
    September 9, 2012 11:09 am

    Virginia, information is a powerful tool to heighten awareness. By providing an avenue to help, you make it possible for blessings to flow not only to the children of Haiti, but to contributors as well. I am so thankful for my own healthy children and contribute in their honor. Please keep this issue on the front burner. Education is one of the key elements to breaking the cycle of poverty. Perhaps faculty members from some of the fine schools in Pittsburgh could sponsor a child for the mere price of $180 per year–just $10.00 each from a faculty of 18 teachers would change a life.

    Thank you for your efforts!

  7. Angela
    September 9, 2012 12:44 pm

    Lin’s idea is a great one. I sent this out to the coordinator and elective teachers in our AVID program (my baby of 5 years) asking if it could be a service project for the kids. If each of our staff donated $10, we could sponser 2-3 kids. If each of the AVID kids donates $2-3, we could sponser another. I hope it works!

  8. Amanda
    September 9, 2012 7:18 pm

    What a great organization. I sponored one on my own, but now I think I need to show this to my boys (8 and 6), and I want to talk with them about this and see if they want to donate too (I’ll help them out, but I think it would be good for them to sacrifice some). It will remind them how blessed they are.

  9. Michelle M
    September 9, 2012 7:28 pm

    Just gave $180 to help out. I am a sucker for Pittsburghers doing good deeds :)

  10. Two Burghers in DC
    September 9, 2012 9:18 pm

    Thank you for posting this. My husband and I are happily donating the funds to sponsor a child. Ali and Jamie do amazing work so please keep blogging about them and the children they are helping!

  11. Kacie
    September 10, 2012 11:54 am

    Ginny, when you post a call to action post like this, I don’t even get to the end of the post before I’m pulling out my wallet. This, and the Make Room for Kids? YES. Excellent causes I can get behind.