Jeremiah Lowney, an orthodontist whose practice operates across Sherman Street from the foundation, started the Haitian Health Foundation in 1982 after his second visit to Haiti.

Jeremiah Lowney, an orthodontist whose practice operates across Sherman Street from the foundation, started the Haitian Health Foundation in 1982 after his second visit to Haiti.

During that trip, Lowney visited an orphanage in Port-au-Prince where a small girl died of malnutrition while still in his arms.

“It was almost like this child was waiting for someone to hold her or love her before she let go,” Lowney said in an interview with The Bulletin for a story on its 25th anniversary in 2007. “The irony was this child died of starvation — 90 minutes from Florida.”

The Norwich charity raises $3 million a year in its efforts to provide health care, education, housing and other services to a region where people depend on subsistence farming, charcoal production and other menial jobs to earn an average income of $90 to $300 a year.

Lowney first visited Haiti in 1982 at the request of then-Bishop Daniel Reilly of the Diocese of Norwich.

Lowney joined nuns who had been sent to Haiti by Mother Teresa in Calcutta. In a phone call with Mother Teresa, she suggested that Lowney visit Jeremie because she was sending some of the nuns there. Lowney found it interesting that the name of the city was his first name in French. He also could not refuse her.

Back in Norwich, the city’s only Haitian that Lowney knew of in 1985 was a man who had lived in Jeremie and who offered Lowney property for the foundation. Lowney figured it would cost $250,000 to build a clinic. The 27,000-square-foot outpatient clinic cost $1 million more.

The foundation counts among its success a 50 percent decrease in deaths from bacterial pneumonia in children younger than 5 and a decrease in diarrhea deaths in children in villages with health foundation agents.

Norwich Bulletin