By Chris Bavender
A trip by a Carmel minister to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake has now snowballed into a mission to help children at the Faith and Love Orphanage in the city of Jacmel in Haiti.
The first goal was to help build a basketball court. Now, a Feb. 28 fundraiser aims to raise money to finish a dental clinic for the kids and surrounding community.
“I walked outside and struck up a conversation with a teenager at the orphanage named Jonas who was playing basketball on a goal lashed to a palm tree. I asked if I could send a picture to my son in America,” said Stan Abell, the minister of Entry.Point.Church. “I immediately texted the picture to my son who responded, ‘Dad, it’s not fair that we have such nice courts to play on, can we build one for them?’ From there, a dream to build a court with Faith and Love Orphanage was born.”
An initial fundraiser brought in around $3,200.
“We were able to put down concrete for the court and even sent other items like razor scooters,” said Jen Jansen, who is hosting this year’s fundraiser at her home. “It stems from one little conversation and then the director who tells us their needs and we put it into motion.”
Faith & Love in Action is a nonprofit organization based in Haiti since 1996. The orphanage – run by Marlaine Alix – is home to about 81 children, who range in age from about 6 to 9 years old.
Jansen was part of the Entry.Point group that traveled to Jacmel last June.
“I have been to Europe but not a developing country, so impoverished is not even a good word. I think that I expected it to be very crowded and dirty, but it just felt remote and sometimes unsafe but also beautiful, and I certainly enjoyed the people,” Jansen said. “When you look around Haiti things seem to be half built and there is this sense that God will provide and they will start working on something and finish it when the money comes.”
The fundraiser will feature drinks, appetizers, desserts, a coffee bar and a silent auction.
“There really is something for everyone,” Jansen said. “There is no charge for the food and drinks. We really just raise money through a love offering at the door and then the silent auction.”
Items in the silent auction include jewelry, a zoo membership, tickets to the Indianapolis 500, a gift certificate to Joe’s Butcher Shop, as well as items donated by Connor Prairie and Edge Guys Heating & Cooling.
The church is planning another trip to the orphanage in the fall, Jansen said.
“Essentially anyone who has interest to go can get on board,” she said. “It’s cool to go with those who have gone before. Just get shots and grab the sunscreen and go. It’s a very cool educational experience and then, the next time you go, you’re old hat.”
The fundraiser starts at 7 p.m. and goes until 10 p.m. Feb. 28, and it’s open to anyone. For more information call 650-1086 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.