January 15, 2010 (San Diego) – Vera Valdivia, a former San Diego resident and alumni of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, is in Haiti and seeks help from San Diego County residents for children in a Haitian orphanage that she co-founded and helped build. The 7.0 earthquake which struck Haiti earlier this week has destroyed the orphanage, East County Magazine has learned.
“As of right now, Valdivia and the orphanage children are living outside in the harsh, earthquake-ravaged conditions,” Denice Menard, communications coordinator for Thomas Jefferson School of Law informed ECM today. “The latest thing I heard is that they are not close enough to Port Au Prince, so they are not getting anything.” The orphanage cares for approximately 60 children who are in need of food, milk, and other supplies.
In addition, one of the children from the orphanage has been badly burned and needs medical help, Menard said.
Valdivia lives in a Haitian village and recently came back to San Diego to visit her daughter. She returned to Haiti on Monday, just one day before thee quake struck. Several law school students have kept in touch with Valdivia through her daughter. Valdivia has taken two of her other children to the U.S. Embassy in hopes of getting them safetly to the U.S., but no such help is possible for the Haitian orphans.
In addition to running the orphanage located in a village outside of Port-au-Prince called Bon Repos, Valdivia also works as an associate for a Haitian lawyer helping to arrange international adoptions for Haitian orphans. She told Thomas Jefferson Associate Dean Beth Kransberger on Jan. 10 that she has written 11 formal immigration appeals to allow the orphans to leave Haiti, of which she has won 10.
Valdivia also recently was invited to give a presentation at an international adoption conference that was organized by the U.S. State Department, U.S. Consulate in Haiti. She was introduced as a "Legal Expert on International Adoptions" and presented with other Haitian officials to the Swiss Ambassador, French and Canadian Consulate officials and representatives of UNICEF.
While an honor student at Thomas Jefferson, Valdivia helped organize a major conference on Women and Children’s Rights in Haiti that featured the Haitian Ambassador to the United States, a senator in the Haitian Parliament and a prominent human rights attorney in Haiti. Last spring, the law school’s black Law Students Association collected donations for a water purifier to be used at the orphanage.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law is accepting monetary donations to benefit the orphanage. Donations of all amounts may be made online at www.tjsl.edu/donate-to-haitian-orphange, or checks may be made out to Thomas Jefferson School of Law and on the memo line state “Haitian Orphanage.” Checks can be mailed to Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 2121 San Diego, Ave., San Diego, CA 92110, or dropped off at the reception desk Monday through Friday during business hours at 2147 San Diego Ave. in Old Town. Receipts for tax deductions will be mailed to donors.