FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Students and faculty of Lynn University in Boca Raton and the University of Miami are marking the fifth year anniversary of a devastating earthquake in Haiti.READ MORE: ‘I Have Goose Bumps’: Zoo Miami's Ron Magil On 'Rita' Laying 2nd Egg On Live Bald Eagle Cam
The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck on Jan. 12, 2010, killed more than 300,000 people and devastated the Caribbean country’s capital of Port-au-Prince.
A contingent from Lynn University, 12 students and two faculty members, was in Port-au-Prince on a January Term course titled “Journey of Hope” to serve the people of Haiti when the quake struck. Eight members returned home safely.
On Monday, Lynn University held its annual Knights Unite Day of Caring in memory of the four students and two professors who died. Over the course of the initiative volunteers packaged over 140,000 meals for children in Haitian orphanages, collected over a thousand pounds of trash from local beaches and held a fundraiser.
Also on Monday, the university held a memorial service to honor the victims
Cherylann and Len Gengel, who lost their daughter Britney in the quake, were on hand.
In the five years since her death they have built an orphanage in Haiti. It was her last wish.
A few hours before the earthquake struck, the 19-year-old texted her parents, “I want to move here and start an orphanage.”
Gengel’s parents and supporters raised money and built the Be Like Brit orphanage in Grand Goave, a town about 30 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince.
The complex in the shape of a “B” houses 33 boys and 33 girls – one of each for the exact number of days her body lay missing beneath the ruins of the hotel where she was staying.READ MORE: Boca Raton Man Faces Charges In Fatal Crash That Killed Homestead Mom, Daughter On Thanksgiving Eve
“They are beautiful children. They are our children we are raising them to be the next generation of leaders in Haiti,” said Len Gengel.
For Len Gengel, a home builder for 30 years, constructing an orphanage that could withstand another earthquake was a priority. He worked with an engineering firm to draw up plans for a flexible but sturdy building.
He recently installed 96 solar panels and wants to make the complex self-sustaining. The orphanage campus includes an acre of fruit trees and vegetation. Gengel’s next step is building a cistern and catch basins for water.
It costs about $75,000 a month to run the orphanage, which is paid for by donations and volunteer mission trips. There are 78 Haitians and two Americans on the orphanage staff.
The University of Miami and Haitian student organization Planet Kreyol also held a ceremony Monday in honor of the victims and survivors of the devastating earthquake.
It began at 4:53 p.m. with a Moment of Silence to mark the time the earthquake struck.
Leading up to the moment of silence was an academic symposium where Students, faculty and staff discussed efforts underway to assist Haiti in its recovery, and building its future.
“That should be part of the daily conversation within us people who are fortunate to be in such environment, to be able to have such a conversation,” said attendee Herold Figareau.
At 6 p.m. a memorial service was held with remarks by Miami-Dade County Commission Chair-Elect Jean Monestime followed by a candlelight at the Lakeside Patio.MORE NEWS: Kyle Lowry Scores 19 Points, Heat Beat Bulls 107-104
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