PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — An American family who lost their daughter in a massive earthquake in Haiti three years ago has finished building an orphanage in her memory.
The parents of Britney Gengel, Leonard and Cherylann, led about 150 family and friends, including U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester, in a solemn ceremony Saturday at the Be Like Brit orphanage in the coastal town of Grand Goave.
“It was a beautiful ceremony and had a great dedication,” said Leonard Gengel, 52, of Rutland, Massachusetts.
The brick-and-mortar homage cost about $1.8 million to build, all raised through donations. The 19,000-square-foot (nearly 1,800-square-meter) facility has seismically resistant walls and a medical clinic.
Built in the shape of a letter “B,” the orphanage will house 33 boys and 33 girls, representing the number of days Britney’s body lay under the rubble.
Gengel was a 19-year-old sophomore at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, who had gone to Haiti to hand out meals for a Christian charity. She died when the hotel where she was staying, the Montana, collapsed.
On Saturday, Haiti will mark the 3rd anniversary of the earthquake that officials say killed more than 300,000 people and displaced more than a million others. The disaster is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in modern history.