The 24 Haitian orphans who live in the new Project 7 children’s village finally have a roof, a bed and surrogate parents to tuck them in at night. Once a shipping container packed by volunteer Kelowna dentists arrives, the children will also have the tools to learn how to sew and weld so they can support their own families someday.
Dr. Jonathan Visscher, a partner at Kelowna dental clinic Okanagan Smiles, has been a part of the Project 7 children’s village since January 2013, when he and other members of New Reality International (NRI) heard about a group of two dozen orphans being fed by poor neighbours in Trou du Nord, Haiti. After months of raising money (>$250,000), NRI has just built the second home in what will be a self-sustaining village with solar power, solar power, well water, and a garden.
Now that the children have bunk beds and surrogate parents, Visscher and a group of local dentists and doctors are filling a 40’ shipping container of supplies to furnish the houses and provide equipment so the children can learn trades.
“The first priority was to get these kids off the street and into a home and a family environment,” says Visscher. “Now that the houses have been built and the gardens have been planted, we need to give them skills so they can grow up with ways to support themselves and their own families.”
Project 7—named after a fundraising initiative that encourages people to pray for, donate to, and tell others about the village—aims to teach the children skills such as how to weld, sew, speak and write French, play music, and garden. That’s why Visscher and his team are collecting items for the shipping container, donated by the local Seventh Day Adventist Church.
It’s already 75% filled with sewing machines, instruments such as organs and trumpets, tools for the mechanic and woodworking shop, and desks and French textbooks donated by School District No. 23.
“It’s been so amazing to see the community rally behind these kids and donate supplies,” says Visscher. He’s hoping by the time the container is sent off later this spring it will also be housing a few bicycles, scooters, a tractor, and some farming equipment.
“The crops we have now are growing really well,” says Visscher, of the garden that now has corn coming in amidst heads of bright green lettuce and ripe papayas. “The families just need some farming supplies to help maintain the garden. A tractor would be a huge help.”
For more information about Project 7 or to donate supplies for the shipping container, visit New Reality International Project 7 or contact Dr. Visscher at 250-763-3338.