By Heather Lusk
Seeing a very young boy sleeping alone in an alley in Nepal spurred Zionsville resident Jeff Papa to find a way to help.
“What does a 4-year-old think when there’s no adult around to help them?” he asked. “It’s just unbelievably disturbing.”
In 2005, he co-founded the Youth Enhancement and Training Initiative Orphanage in Nepal.
“We thought maybe we could make a difference for some,” Papa said.
Within the last two years, the first children to enter the establishment have become adults, with many leaving to pursue higher education or find jobs, while others returned to work at the orphanage.
“Some wanted to pay back the organization,” Papa said.
The orphanage is primarily funded through an annual fundraiser, the YETI Orphanage Dinner and Auction.
This year’s 16th annual event is April 2 at Barnes & Thornburg in Indianapolis. It also will raise funds for underprivileged children in central Indiana.
Past donations have funded hospital and medical needs for children, student scholarships, family shelters and domestic violence facilities.
Papa said because YETI has no overhead and very limited expenses, all proceeds go directly to help children in Nepal or Indiana. He wants to raise between $15,000 and $20,000, which he said is primarily what is needed to run the orphanage.
“It gives us a focus point to raise money,” he said.
During the event, there will be a Skype call with children at the YETI Orphanage, which Papa said is often amusing.
Papa attributes the success of the orphanage to the family that operates it.
“It’s not a job or a hobby for them. They really take it seriously,” he said. “Our partners have just been incredibly above the board and dedicated to this cause. That makes all the difference.”