Building their future brick by brickThe people of Five Oaks Community Church put on their hard hats and built an orphanage for a group of orphans in Fedja, a small town in Haiti. The ribbon cutting for the new building was last month.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
The people of Five Oaks Community Church put on their hard hats and built an orphanage for a group of orphans in Fedja, a small town in Haiti.
The ribbon cutting for the new building was last month.
“When you go down there and you see these kids — you can’t help but feel for them,” said Five Oaks’ outreach director Jerry Meras. “Seeing the building up is great, but it still comes back to kids — you want nothing more than to go down and help.”
A total of 58 orphans have moved into the new building that is complete with individual bunk beds, showers, a kitchen and a school.
“Now, these kids are happy, they’re smiling and they’re joyful,” said Five Oaks pastor Henry Williams. “It’s very gratifying to see that — it’s overwhelming in many ways.”
A five-year project
The Five Oaks Haiti project began in 2005 when a small group of church members traveled to Haiti for a mission trip and were floored by the poor conditions that children were living in. Thirty orphans were living in an old sheep barn with dirt floors, steel walls and not enough beds for everyone.
“That was the first experience that people had actually seeing the children in conditions no beast or child should ever have to live in,” said Jan Mularoni, a project volunteer. “When people see the need they have a passion to want to help — you’re motivated by love for people.”
For the project, Five Oaks teamed up with Global Vision Citadelle Ministries, a Haitian church.
The passion to help in this project spread throughout the church, and the community in both Woodbury, Haiti and across the world. The two churches were able to raise $280,000 in donations, but additionally over $750,000 was donated in services and equipment.
“Without people giving that way, we would not be able to do it,” Mularoni said. “Seeing the need and knowing that this work had to be done in order for these kids to be safe really inspired people.”
Since the project was initially started back in 2005, more than 120 volunteers from Five Oaks traveled down to Haiti with a church group every January to help make this vision and dream a reality. Volunteers slept in tents during these mission trips.
No volunteer was as dedicated and hard working as volunteer coordinator Mike Mularoni who took up the lead for this project, Five Oaks pastor Williams said. Mularoni is a licensed architect and contractor.
“This project wouldn’t have happened without someone on this end really keeping things going like Mike did — it’s his life,” Williams said. “He’s constantly pulling people in and giving them a vision for it.”
Working with so many volunteers with no experience in contracting or building could have posed some challenges, but Mularoni said the crew worked well together.
“When you get into an environment like this, it amounts to learning who you have working with you,” he said. “What are their skills sets? What are their gifts? What are their talents and using those in the field to the best of that ability — it all seems to gel, everything seems to come out like it should.”
Meras said he was most impressed at how people who barely knew each other could form as a team so quickly.
“We’ve never had a flare up because it’s not about you, it’s about going down there and working,” he said.
Striving towards completion
Even though the vast majority of the principal building is completed and the children are now in the building, the Haiti project is still far from completion.
Five Oaks members will continue to travel to Haiti to complete a security wall, a veranda and a separate building that will hold the school. Additionally, the long term vision would have the building include a clinic, a church and a ministry house.
A 2011 timetable has been set for completion.
“I have never experienced anything like this before,” Meras said. “If you ever want to feel good about your life, go to Haiti for a while and you’ll see how blessed you are — I could never had spent my time any better, anything else is shallow.”
For more information about the Haiti project or to donate contact Five Oaks Church at (651) 459-7485 or Mike Mularoni at Mike@gvcm.com.
Below is a video of the orphanage ribbon cutting in Fedja, Haiti.
Kispert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org