BAKERSFIELD, CA- A Philippine orphanage helping children escape poverty and life on the streets recently burned down leaving residents devastated. The orphanage was primarily funded by the community of Bakersfield.
Church leaders spearheading the rebuilding efforts here in Kern County said time is a factor because the rainy season in the Philippines is approaching.
40 children and eight staff members displaced by the fire are currently living in a makeshift home, originally designed to hold 12 people, but that home doesn't have a roof.
On February 25th flames shot out of the Send the Light Orphanage in Angeles City, Philippines. Early reports suggest it was an electrical fire. Fortunately, no one was hurt but it destroyed the top floor.
Co-founder Mary Clendening from Bakersfield was shocked after seeing cell phone video taken at the scene.
"My husband and I have put our life into this and we will be there till we die,” Clendening said. “Just to see it all go up in flames, it was horrible."
The orphanage provided a home for 70 children since it was built in 2006, costing roughly $160,000 and funded primarily from donations that came from Bakersfield. The Clendenings started the orphanage after traveling to the Philippines and seeing the conditions children were living in.
"The children were living in dumps,” Clendening said. “We went to the dumps, saw them eating the garbage.”
The fire destroyed most of the beds and a lot of the children's clothes. Estimates suggest $45,000 is needed to repair the facility before the children can move in.
Clendening is once again asking Bakersfield and Kern County to help rebuild the orphanage, a first home for many of these children.
"If you love children and have value in their lives, help us, that is what we need,” Clendening said.
In addition to financial help church leaders said the children also need summertime clothing. Donations can be dropped off at Christ Cathedral Church. The address is 2301 White Lane in Bakersfield.