KEARNEY, Neb. — A Kearney couple have been working since 2011 to build a village orphanage in Haiti.
Last month, Jennifer and Dave Huebner got to see the finished project in person for the first time.
“We sat around in a group circle that night and talked about it. It was really indescribable,” Jennifer said. “It’s hard to feel joy and sadness at the same time, but you do.”
“It was overwhelming,” Dave said. “It was a bit surreal, like, ‘Wow, this had really happened.’”
The Huebners founded the Haiti Orphan Group in February 2011 to raise funds to build an orphanage. In 2012, Bryan and Lori Dick of Holdrege became partners in the project.
To date, the Haiti Orphan Group has raised $182,000.
The Huebners worked through the Global Orphan Project, a Kansas City, Mo.-based orphan care movement created to provide for the basic needs of millions of orphaned children worldwide. The Global Orphan Project has 23 sponsored orphanages in Haiti.
The Haiti Orphan Group’s building is in a village in northern Haiti called Marmelade and is run by a pastor at the Marmelade Baptist Church.
The orphanage complex consists of a church, kitchen and cafeteria; a latrine with bathrooms and showers; and a boys and girls home. There are 38 children in the complex.
“They built it on a mountainside, it’s so steep,” Jennifer said. “It’s the most gorgeous orphanage there.”
The Global Orphan Project kept the Huebners up to date while construction progressed.
“We were a bit worried because we were looking at raising a couple hundred thousand dollars, and it’s been overwhelming, wondering if you’re going to be able to do that or if you’ll fall short,” Dave said. “We’ve been really impressed on how the Kearney-Holdrege community has stepped up and helped raise that amount of money in a few years.”
The next step is to help make the orphanage self-sustainable. The goal for orphanages involved in the Global Orphans Project is to become self-sustaining in three years.
The March trip was the third time the Huebners have gone to Haiti, and they plan to go back yearly to see the progress with the orphanage.
“There have been a lot of people involved this, besides us, and we want to thank them for their support,” Dave said. “We’re definitely not done. There’s still a lot to do.”