Thursday, May 23, 2024

Local effort to support West African orphanage gains momentum

A generous donation from the Leavenworth Soccer Club provides Dream Again Home children with endless hours of entertainment.
A generous donation from the Leavenworth Soccer Club provides Dream Again Home children with endless hours of entertainment.
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LEAVENWORTH - Blessing is a four-year-old Sierra Leonean from the country’s largest city and capital, Freetown. With a cherub-shaped face and sweet disposition, she laughs unabashedly while playing hand-clapping games and yet can also sit quietly for an hour enjoying the affection associated with having her hair braided.  After losing her mother and then her father to disease, she and her brother were left without family to care for them.  When Freetown native Pastor Joshua Sandy made a routine visit to the ministry in Sierra Leone, Blessing joined thirty-one other Sierra Leonean children at the Dream Again Home, an orphanage in Freetown.  Her brother has not been located; Sandy is currently scouring the bustling streets of Freetown, hoping to bring him to the temporary housing and resources the Dream Again Home offers the children it serves.

Inspired to help children like Blessing, six staff and students from Cascade High School (CHS) joined local Pastor Darryl Wall and dedicated their week-long mid-winter break to supporting the mission of the Dream Again Home.  Each traveler brought with them a suitcase filled with donations: soccer balls from the Leavenworth Soccer Club, arts and crafts supplies from New Life Foursquare Church (NLFC), and personal donations.  Their time in Sierra Leone has inspired them to broaden the support being offered by and spread awareness to the Leavenworth community for this special place in Western Africa.

 With an estimated population of over a million people, Freetown is a place of perpetual movement and with a crime rate that often prompts the U.S. Department of State to issue travel advisories for the area and would deem the streets unsafe for any unaccompanied child.  

This is where Dream Again Home comes in.  Founded in 2015 by Sandy, with an initial focus on serving children who lost parents to the national Ebola crisis of 2014-2016, Dream Again Home serves an average of twenty children aged between two and sixteen.  

During the Sierra Leonean Ebola crisis and Civil War (1991-2002), Sandy witnessed local children being left without family to care for them or a home.  He jumped at the opportunity to rent the small facility that currently houses thirty-two children – the most the orphanage has ever served – and two on-site caretakers.

Referred to as “aunties,” the on-site caretakers are a strong foundation for the orphanage.  They work tirelessly to cook, clean, clothe, and nurture every child.  Often, when NLFC, which funds the Dream Again Home, has been unable to provide an income for them, they have continued to provide services.

The mission of the Dream Again Home is to provide a “temporary placement center [and] a way to attend to the needs of kids, tak[ing] care of their welfare, education and health” while searching for adoptive parents to “provide every child with a proper home,” explained Pastor Sandy.

Leavenworth residents initially became connected with this orphanage in 2016 when NLFC Pastor Darryl Wall and his wife Mindy visited the site and became the first adoptees of two teenage children from the orphanage.  Today, NLFC is the sole financial backer of the Dream Again Home.  Combined with guardianship fees from adoptive parents, the church funds the food, education, staff, and lease necessary to run the facility. The NLFC hopes to “make sure the orphanage has what they need to stay solvent, become self-sufficient, and find adoptive parents for the children,” said Mindy Wall.

The recent CHS staff and students trip integrated a third benefactor: the Leavenworth Soccer Club (LSC), which donated over twenty soccer balls to the Dream Again Home.  “A big part of LSC’s mission is to help develop the life skills and fitness habits – through soccer – to help children prepare for a successful, happy and healthy life.  Our main focus is local children, but when this opportunity came up to help, we really wanted to,” said Jessica Evans Fark, LSC Publicity Coordinator.  

The number of children at the Dream Again Home has far outgrown the capacity of their current housing: two rooms, each the size of an average American bedroom, currently house all 32 orphans. However, plans to develop a new location are already underway to provide a “secure location where protection is more guaranteed,” said Sandy, who conveyed his vision.  Sandy has purchased and cleared seven acres of land on the outskirts of town.  The next steps are to dig a well and build adequate facilities to house and educate the children.

The staff and students from CHS are committed to joining NLFC in raising awareness and funds to help make these dreams a reality.  Their goal?  To raise the money necessary for constructing the well and move progress on the new orphanage site forward.

As a first step, the authors of this article, who participated and who are both members of the CHS Interact Club, attended and described their trip and its mission at the Rotary Club of Leavenworth meeting on Friday, March 1.  The CHS Interact Club, a Rotary subsidiary, is dedicated to “bring[ing] together young people ages 12-18 to develop leadership skills while discovering the power of Service Above Self,” is planning to host a benefit dinner to raise funds for this international charity.

If you are inspired to help, there are many ways to get involved.  One way is through adoption.  Darryl and Mindy Wall are happy to speak with anyone interested in being involved in this way.  They can be contacted at dmwall@nwi.net

“Not everyone should adopt, but everyone can be part of helping orphan children,” said Mindy Wall.  Other ways to help include donating to the Dream Again Home GoFundMe account specifically dedicated to providing funding for the well at the new orphanage site.  This account can be accessed at https://gofund.me/636a65cd.

Attending the CHS Interact benefit dinner on Wednesday, March 27 at 6p in the CHS Commons is another way to show support.  To purchase tickets, please make a donation ($20 is suggested) to https://gofund.me/636a65cd and indicate that your donation is for the benefit dinner.

Yodelin Broth Company, a popular local restaurant, is also planning to show its support: it is dedicating its monthly Benevolent Night in October of 2024 to collaboration with CHS Interact Club and support of this cause.

Finally, donors can give a one-time donation, a monthly donation, or a donation to missions and ministries through the New Life Foursquare Church website: www.newlifeleavenworth.com.

*U.S. Department of State regulations prevent the naming of individual children in orphanages.  Names have been changed or omitted in this article.

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