Robin and Kari Bauer
If There’s a Will, There’s a Way – Few would probably guess that a geologist and a personal trainer/conditioning coach would be able to offer much help when natural disaster strikes, but Robin and Kari Bauer would beg to differ. On January 12, 2010, the Canadian couple received news of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti—and for them, it was personal.
“I was adopted, so I always knew I wanted to adopt,” says Kari. “About 13 months before the earthquake happened we had begun the adoption process and were matched with Betty.” Betty, whose full name is Betchilove, was three and a half years old and living in an orphanage, Foyer de Sion, in Port-au-Prince at the time of the disaster.
“We just thought, ‘What can we do to help?’ We don’t have the skill set of a search and rescue team,” recalls Kari.
Then it hit them: Twitter.
It Just Takes a Few People
“I wasn’t really a Twitter user. I might’ve had 10 or so followers at the time,” explains Robin. “I didn’t know about hashtags, but I figured out how to do searches and found people tweeting about Haiti.”
Through the social media site, Robin was able to make connections with people and organizations across the U.S. and in Haiti to deliver food and water to Betty’s orphanage and the surrounding area.
“It was the little connections made in critical days that really seemed to make the difference,” explains Kari. “In the initial days no one was getting food or water from big organizations like the Red Cross.
“The L.A. Fire Department called one day because they saw a tweet. They said, ‘We have a search and rescue team down there. We can’t bring water, but we’ll pass this (message) on to the U.N.’”
“Over a five-day period I don’t think I spent any less than 10 hours a day on Twitter,” recalls Robin, who would wake up during the night to answer Haiti-related phone calls and tweets.
“You just need a few people to do something,” says Kari.
From Surviving to Thriving
Two days after the earthquake struck, the couple received an email letting them know that all 120 children, including little Betty, in the orphanage were OK. Two and a half weeks later, Betty left Haiti and flew to Canada, her new home.
“She was three and a half years old and only 19 pounds. She was in pretty rough shape,” recalls Kari. “The doctor said that if we hadn’t adopted her, she wouldn’t have survived.”
Today, Betty is a lively, healthy, five-and-half-year old girl. “I always say that kids are like plants; if you give them food and water and a little bit of love—oh my gosh—they grow!”
Kaiya, the Bauers’s first daughter, is in second grade—and is quite protective of her younger sister. “They get along famously,” says Kari. “They share everything. I couldn’t ask for a better temperament from my older daughter.”
Robin and Kari plan to stay involved in Haiti in some way for life. “Our long-term goal is to go down to Haiti and be more hands-on,” says Kari.
“Now we have our own little piece of Haiti to take care of,” adds Robin.