By Robin Jovanovich and Tom McDermott
When Daniel Pellegrini’s aunt, Maria Iorillo, a midwife who generously volunteers her services, asked his parents if her nephew could accompany her on an eight-day visit to an orphanage in Haiti this summer, they said yes. The next thing Daniel, 13, did was ask his parents if his younger brother Matthew, 11, could come too.
The boys, who are as close and as different as brothers can be, are quick to tell you that they’ve been Scouts with Rye Troop 2 “all their lives.” In other words, they’re prepared.
For the last year, they’ve spread the word — through Boy Scouts and Rye Moms Facebook pages — and asked for donations of used backpacks, duffel bags (big enough to carry supplies), brand-new underwear, and duct tape (for the wallets they’re making). As of last week, the boys still needed funds to buy tarps to help create walls where there are none currently at the orphanage in Hinche. “The people there can’t just go to Home Depot to pick up supplies,” noted Daniel, “so we’re bringing as many as we can.” They are also transporting needed antibiotics.
On July 21, the boys will fly to Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital, where they’ll meet the rest of the volunteer group, and from there travel two hours by moto taxi to the orphanage. They are looking forward to meeting the residents, who range in age from infant to 18. Their aunt has explained to them that Haiti has the highest infant mortality in the world.
Matthew and Daniel will be the only children on the trip and they’re fine with that. “We’re going to spend time with the kids and teach them skills.”
There are certain Scouting badges that the boys can earn, including Citizenship in the World, on this trip. “It’s great to earn badges,” allowed Daniel. Matthew piped up, “The requirements are fun! I love everything about Scouting.”
What they’ve loved most recently is Troop 2’s trip to West Point. They understand that the trip to Hinche may require all the skills they can muster as well as teach them a few new ones.
“Whatever we bring with us, we’re going to leave for the kids, including our sneakers,” said the boys matter-of-factly.
<If you would like to contribute to the mission, visit midwivesforhaiti.org. Donations may also be dropped off at the Pellegrini home, 57 Maple Avenue.>