Global Orphan Foundation has been my home, my heart, and my mission for the last few years. My dog and I picked up and moved to Indianapolis to join the GOF team in 2016 and haven’t looked back since. Once I understood that 1 in 7 children under the age of 5 was dying of malnutrition in DRCongo and that GOF was doing something about it, I wanted to do anything I could to be a part of the solution.
A lot has changed for me in this time frame (I met and married my husband, bought a house, and gained the love of three step-dogs) but the changes in my life pale in comparison to the changes that GOF has made. Not only changes in our programs, but also changes in the lives of the children we are lucky enough to serve.
As I start this chapter as US Director of Global Orphan Foundation, I want to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve already accomplished together.
I started soon before we broke ground on GOF’s well. We were told that it would take no more than 30 days. I was pumped. I created a hashtag (#30DaysToCleanWater) and continually shared updates online as we got them. Thirty days later, there was no well, but there was a valuable lesson learned that working in DRCongo isn’t like working in the US. The first location didn’t have water, the second one had water, but not enough, finally the third location was a success. Hindsight being what it is, the hashtag should have been #90DaysToCleanWater.
This well that taught me such an important lesson has done even more important things. For the last two years, it has provided a clean, safe (and delicious, I might add) source of water for the community that no longer has to walk 6 hours each day to get contaminated water for their families. For the last year, it has also been a water source for the farming that has been happening on the land, the farmers, the construction of Bolingo Village, and all of the construction workers. Moving forward, it will continue to do all of that, as well as provide safe drinking water, showers, and flushing toilets in each house for the families that will call Bolingo Village home. Thank you for helping us construct the well!
The next big project was our insect farming program. Your support helped us bring in a shipping container to use as a training center. I’ll never forget sitting in the office one day with Nicole as we tried to figure out the best way to ensure that it wouldn’t get too hot inside the shipping container. We feared that with it sitting on the equator, the heat would kill the palm weevil larvae inside. In case you’re wondering - the solution is cutting a window in the side opposite the door for cross ventilation, installing vents in the ceiling, painting the entire thing with a paint additive called “cool coat”, and planting vining vegetables to grow across the sides and top to help absorb some of the heat.
That shipping container, and now our farm building, have and will continue to provide training for area orphanages, create a revenue stream to start Bolingo Village towards being sustainable, and will help feed Bolingo families. USAID says that the answer to world hunger is insect farming. Your support has helped us create a sustainable program that will help orphanages feed the children that are in their care in perpetuity. Thank you.
The biggest thing yet is the existence and opening of Bolingo Village. Real talk, Bolingo wouldn’t be a reality without the countless donated hours from specialists that helped us create policies, the Amazon wishlist items you sent in, the monetary donations, the help packing, and your constant encouragement! Putting into words how being there for the opening ceremony felt is still hard for me. I felt so proud, so humbled, and so inspired to build more houses and welcome more families! If you haven’t yet - watch the video here!
Global Orphan Foundation has been lifting the world’s most vulnerable children since 2007, and we’re just getting started. Thank you for throwing a little pebble and watching the ripples grow into a village. I’m eternally grateful to be on this journey with you.
Rachel Tanner, U.S. Director