Illinois Sen. Kwame Raoul is a tireless advocate of Grace Children's Hospital in Port au Prince, and he recently held a fundraiser for the institution among Chicago-area donors at the Union League Club.
As he explains in the above clip, his involvement with the hospital stretches back to his childhood, when his Haitian-born father, a physician, served on its board of directors. Raoul now continues his legacy in that role.
He has made frequent trips to Haiti since he was a youngster, and he heartbreakingly describes the experience of watching the devastating events of last year unfold.
"I remember calling my mother that evening after seeing the dome from the Presidential Palace collapse and saying to her 'turn off the TV,'" Raoul recalls.
He knew the infrastructure of the capital had been destroyed, and he feared the worst for Grace Children's Hospital.
"If you had traveled to Haiti on January 11th, you might have thought the earthquake had just hit," Raoul says. "So the needs existed before January 12th of last year."
He is trying to meet those needs in his capacity as a board member of International Child Care, the NGO which oversees the hospital and provides primary health care services for more than 200,000 people each year through urban and rural clinics.
"There was no worse place for it to happen," Raoul says of the earthquake, which damaged 80 percent of hospital buildings.
The new hospital Raoul seeks to fund is being designed and built in consultation with Children's Memoral Hospital here in Chicago, and it will serve children who need continuous monitoring in a new 123-bed inpatient ward. The outpatient clinics will be capable of serving more than the 250 currently seen each day in transitional facilities. The hospital will also house the Urban Health Center, a hub of outreach activities covering the entire island of Haiti.
If you would like to support Sen. Raoul's efforts in rebuilding Grace Children's Hospital, please visit http://internationalchildcare.org/give