To the Fullers, the situation there appeared almost hopeless. However, after going to churches and schools, they decided it was the place. They returned in June with a desire to make things better for the children in Haiti.
To form the first team to go, the Fullers prepared a slide presentation to show people the needs of the Haitian people. But Gary said it was the “wrong time — so hot.”
Team members mostly from Cleveland were among the first to respond. And the Fullers were the first white people to stay at the orphanage.
The Haiti project expanded as family and church connections became more widely spread. People from several denominations came together from several states including Washington State. Joe and Peggy Pesterfield of Cleveland, along with the Fullers, were the only Clevelanders in the dozen team members on this latest trip.
Subsequent mission trips included a wider range of interest as needs became more apparent. Not only were building projects begun, but vitamins for the children and medical care were provided. Some team members played dual or multiple roles. In previous yeaers, Dr. Jerry DeVane, who did medical care, also was the electrician.
Altogether, the Fullers have made from 10 to 12 trips. “Our aim,” Pat explained, “is to be a help to children who don’t have someone to see after them.” Some years they were told by the State Department it was not safe to travel to the country.
In the 2010 earthquake, the orphanage lost two main buildings. Five children and two workers were killed.
Since that devastating event, efforts to start rebuilding walls of the camp — and for security — have become a cooperative effort with Global Assistance Network of Germany (a division of Campus Crusade for Christ).
The joint efforts will produce new dorms, a dining hall and a clinic at a cost of several million dollars.
An administrative family lives there and oversees the rebuilding of the village, with the wife taking care of children.
The orphanage’s name changed to CA-IRA — Children’s Village. Before the earthquake, 82 children were in the orphanage — now there are 65.
The unemployment rate in Haiti is from 60 to 80 percent. Pat said they are trying to create educational plans beyond classic school. The goal is to provide for college and vocational school. “People will get jobs if educated,” she said. It costs $10 monthly to go to vocational school and $50 monthly for college.
Children with no families, she said, have no access to funds for school and will end up on streets. If educated, Pat said, they can escape extreme poverty and unemployment in four generations. The focus now is on rebuilding the 5-acre campus. GAiN has already poured the foundation for the floor and a dorm. Fabricated rooms are coming from Germany and the first building is in port ready for construction.
The Dominican Republic provided plywood and tin for temporary dorms, along with bunk beds. Since the earthquake, children haven’t been able to eat together because there was no shelter. The Triplett Sunday school class at Broad Street United Methodist Church provided funds for the steel and metal for roof so dining is now under shelter.
There are other teams working in the area, and other groups are ministering also in Honduras and Guatemala. The next trip to Haiti will be the first week in March 2013. It is scheduled during Lee University’s spring break as there are students who want to go. A team is being put together now. Contact Gary Fuller at 715-1454 if you are interested in being part of the 2013 team.