courtesy of Al and Valerie Carpenter
Construction has begun on the community center near the Ryan Epps Home for Children, where locals can get vocational skills to help them find a job.
CLAYTON -- A local non-profit that built an orphanage and school in Haiti is now expanding to build a community center to teach vocational skills. They need money to grow their effort.
The Ryan Epps Home for Children is a project sponsored by Horne Memorial United Methodist Church in Clayton that provides a safe haven for orphaned boys and girls in Michaud, Haiti, about 25 miles from Port-au-Prince.
The orphanage opened in 2007 at a rented house. It started out with 10 children. The rented house was badly damaged during the 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of Port-au-Prince. A permanent orphanage was built in 2010 and currently houses 24 children.
“From January 2010 to August 2010, there were kids in tents,” said Al Carpenter, who is on the board of the Ryan Epps Home. He has made more than 30 trips to Haiti to help out locals, and he was on the ground in Haiti when the earthquake erupted.
One positive outcome from the earthquake, he said, is that it inspired people to help the children in Haiti. Funds poured in to help build the orphanage. Now, the children live in a safe metal building constructed to withstand Category three hurricanes.
“The children have come out of tents and into buildings in two and a half years,” said Carpenter. “It’s been a blessing for it to move that fast.”
This summer, a team of volunteers traveled to Haiti and finished constructing a school at the orphanage. There are dozens of children in the community who do not live at the orphanage but who attend the school, making a total of 170 students. The group is now working to build a community center.
The community center will be a place where parents can develop vocational skills so they can provide for their children. It will also be a place for young adults to gain skills allowing them to provide for themselves, Carpenter said. The center will have a small medical clinic and will house the community church.
So far, the group has raised half of the funds necessary to build the community center’s first phase, floor one. The projected cost is $120,000. They will complete the second floor when funding allows. Carpenter said they’d like to have phase one finished by the end of 2013.
Carpenter and his wife, Valerie, will be making their next trip to Haiti with a team of 30 volunteers to help with construction of the community center in January.
Sponsoring a child costs $1,200 per year, which includes food and care. Schooling, books, and uniform cost $300 per year. Total sponsorship costs $1,500 per year.
Children may be sponsored to attend school for $300 per year. Teachers may be sponsored at $100 per month.
Visit ryaneppshome.com for more information.