Local News

Triangle man on mission to help Haitian orphans

Posted February 28, 2010 8:29 a.m. EST
Updated February 28, 2010 3:33 p.m. EST

— A Wake Forest man is on a mission to bring solar power, clean water and a sustainable garden to an orphanage in quake-devastated Haiti.

Andy Lepper and his wife, Susan, run a ministry, Tyro Mavin Worldwide, that supports Orphanage on the Rock in Ouaniminthe, about 150 miles northeast of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

The orphanage cares for and educates "kids that have basically been disposed of" – many with physical infirmities or illness, including HIV. A 4-year-old boy who needs a hip replacement was found by a river, Lepper said.

When a 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January, Lepper's first thoughts were with those children. Fortunately, he said, none of the 33 orphans were killed, and only two had minor injuries.

But staff workers in the capital were killed, and the pastor who runs the orphanage lost many family members.

"Our pastor said, 'Please let me have a little time of grieving before you bring a team,'" Lepper said. "There were lots of those really, really close to us that we lost."

Lepper turned his mind to thinking of how his charity could help. It was designed to help orphans, not provide disaster relief.

"We didn't want to rush in there, just to say, 'I was there in the beginning,'" he said. "We wanted specific objectives."

On March 11, he and a team of seven will deliver photovoltaic solar panels and water filtration systems to Orphanage on the Rock.

"We want to help them be sustainable," Lepper said. "We don't want to foster dependence on somebody else."

The water filtration system will provide more than double than what the orphanage needs, and the excess water can be sold, creating an income source. The team – Wayne Brummett, Bill Lewis, David Bissette and Matt, Merle and Noah Joyner – will also start growing food on a nearby 4-acre patch of land.

The team also hopes to bring a half-ton of food for the town, its population swelled by refugees from the capital who have relatives there.

The team needs $5,000 to fully fund its trip. So far, they have raised $1,000 by selling handmade jewelry at churches and Catawba College. Team members have also been soliciting corporate donations.