CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - No matter what you've been told, one person can change the world.
Denise Holder is living proof of this.
Holder is in the middle of something truly amazing. Over the summer, Holder and a group of friends traveled to the Central African Republic and established an orphanage there. Though the orphanage is now in operation and houses its first few children, Holder still has so much more she would like to contribute.
Denise Holder, center, is pictured with orphaned children in the Central African Republic. Holder has helped to establish an orphanage and acquire 200 mosquito nets from The Resource Center in Jamestown to help protect children from malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
"So far, we've drilled a water well, repaired the structure of the formerly abandoned, yet incredibly well preserved 10 bedroom and two kitchen main house, we've hired our first staff members, settled various 'red tape' matters with the government, and started a system of fundraising," said Holder. "Then, four of us flew to Africa and spent the first week of August on site to power up the house, flow the plumbing, arrange more government agreements, and get to know the neighbors."
Though Holder has already accomplished so much, her vision for the orphanage is far from complete. According to Holder, Central African Republic is one of the most desolate, needy and poverty-stricken places in Africa, and she would like to bring as much hope and modernity to it as she possibly can.
THE NEXT STEPS
Though the orphanage is open, Holder would like to see the community surrounding the orphanage flourish as well.
"We need to open the school and find doctors to come to Africa," said Holder. "Our on-property neighbors include 20 family homes, a struggling clinic, a hopefully soon-to-be-open school, a Bible school, and various abandoned buildings. I spent a couple of days just walking the property, talking with the people discussing the lack-of-funds closed school, and interviewing the employees of the clinic. ... After the school was abandoned, the desks, chairs and other supplies were looted, but the building still stands strong. The Jonathan House is determined to get it up and running, because our children will attend this school, and the second closest school is over five miles away."
The Jonathan House Ministries is an organization that has been caring for vulnerable children in one of the poorest corners in Africa since 2003. The organization started with a small house for a handful of children in Sierra Leone, which has grown to house 67 children in five family-style homes. Now the organization is focusing on the orphanage in the Central African Republic which Holder has helped to establish.
According to Holder, the clinic is a diamond-in-the-rough, and is run by a group of severely underfunded, undertrained, and undersupplied - yet dedicated and tenacious - people who are attempting to provide adequate medical care using inadequate support.
"When I asked the head of the clinic: 'What is the one thing, above all other things, that the clinic needs?' he said, 'Training for my staff,'" said Holder. "I was really touched by that. I felt that this response was wise, poignant and showed confidence in his own people, when he could have asked for material charity. It was a request to teach his people to fish, rather than to come feed them for a day."
In response, Holder is searching for doctors or medical professionals who believe it is a good time in their lives to go on a humanitarian trip.
"Now, we want to bring over maybe three doctors and a couple of helpers, as well as medicine and supplies needed to train the local doctors there," said Holder. "Moreso, however, we want to train the local people, as well. We want to hold classes either while we're there, or maybe just train some local people there how to teach a class. You wouldn't believe how little about hygiene is actually known there. So many diseases can be prevented if you just wash your hands, but they have no idea about germs or bacteria. They routinely go to the bathroom and then go back into the kitchen not to mention they live in mud huts with chickens running all over the place. What I'm trying to say is, I want to have clinics about hygiene and AIDS and farming and such, and we need doctors and other volunteers to go out there and teach them."
Holder is encouraging any doctors, local or otherwise, who would be interesting in helping to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
THE RESOURCE CENTER HELPS
One problem that Holder faced in opening up the orphanage was that it needed a large supply of mosquito nets to help mitigate the spread of Malaria. She said that she had scoured the globe looking for mosquito nets which would be suitable, however her search was utterly fruitless.
"I looked all over and simply couldn't find any," said Holder. "I finally found a company in Germany that made some, however acquiring them proved to be very difficult. Finally, a friend of mine had tipped me off that The Resource Center right here in Jamestown formerly manufactured nets for the military. As a result, I was thrilled when The Resource Center donated the incredible number of 200 nets. Most nets protect several kids at once while they sleep. I personally installed one net in a family home on campus, and that net protects five small children from malaria-carrying mosquitoes when they sleep under it."
THE BEST SO FAR IS ABOU
Even though the orphanage was just recently built, it already has once success story.
"Unexpectedly, while we were in Sibut, we were blessed with our first child," said Holder. "His name is Abou, and he is now safely thriving in our house and loves to kick a soccer ball around with the nearby bible school children. A government official tripped us off about him. He was formerly washing dishes at a restaurant in exchange for the food left on the plates that came back. After a thorough interview of Abou and the restaurant owner, we decided that our orphanage was the best place for him, and he moved in on Aug. 7."
Holder is expecting around five more children to join the orphanage soon, all of which live in the Sibut area. She is looking into their stories to see if they need a home.
HOLDER'S MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC
Holder would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read this article, especially those who will be moved enough to contribute to her goal of raising the standard of living in the Central African Republic.
"Thank you for reading, and thank you for caring," said Holder. "Please contact me (email@example.com) if you have some funds you can donate, or if you are a doctor, nurse or other medical care professional and feel it is a good time for you to go on a humanitarian trip. You will make a big change for the better in the lives of some people who will desperately appreciate it."
Anyone who is interesting in joining Holder's cause is asked to visit www.jonhouse.org. Jonathan House Ministries is a registered 501 (c) (3) organization and all donations are tax deductible.