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March 5, 2013

Making a difference







Kyle Adams is a veteran now.

He recently returned from his sixth trip to Haiti and still hasn't gotten his fill.

Especially considering what he's had a part in developing over the last two years.

After serving Double Harvest on mission trips led by Purdue team chaplain Marty Dittmar through Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Adams found a too-good opportunity to serve on the board of the Ephraim Orphan Project.

The project was born in the wake of the earthquake in 2010, when Fabiola Valery saw children living on streets, orphaned and struggling. She felt led to help and dreamed of building an orphanage. Valery didn't have the funds to do it but prayed for God to make a way if that was truly her charge. Soon after, she got a call from a man she didn't know who had land in the Plateau Central region, about 45 minutes from Port au Prince and spared from most of the earthquake's damage.

When he learned of Valery's desire to build an orphanage - and more, ultimately - on the land, he gave her it for free. She signed the deed in May 2010, and the construction on the orphanage should be completed this April.

Adams and Dittmar jumped on board with the new project immediately, having known Valery through her work with Double Harvest.

And, now, after much work financially and physically to fund and build the orphanage, it will be ready to accept about 30 children in April. Adams and Dittmar just got back from a trip that helped with some finishing touches, painting, sanding, tiling and installing an electric, automatic pump for a well.

"It's really neat to be a part of what God is doing," said Adams, who graduated from Purdue in 2010 and is entering his third season with the Chicago Bears. "The whole view of Ephraim - it's run by a Haitian, we just try to help raise money and help however we can - is to let the Haitian people help themselves. Just to use our talents to help people who really need it, to help poorest of the poor. That is definitely the coolest thing I've ever done."

The most recent trip provided some long-lasting memories because it included a dentist, Doctor Trevor Murray. His was a much-needed presence.

Adams said he could look inside the mouths of children and literally see teeth rotted through to the nerve. Murray performed some extractions, providing some form of relief from the constant pain they'd been accustomed to.

"Doctor Murray was saying, 'If this was America, they wouldn't be able to eat or sleep.' But they have to or they don't survive," Adams said. "Some of the kids came back the next day and pointed to the tooth and gave us a thumb's up. So that was my favorite part of the trip."

Adams has found he experiences something new on each trip to Haiti.

On his first in 2008, as a sophomore at Purdue, he was struck hard by the poverty, saying it "rocked his world."

"A lot of things I had high up on my list in American culture like being cool and partying, they really became pretty silly when you see people starving to death," he said. "That realization really opened the door for me to accept Christ as savior, knowing I needed a savior, knowing how important that really was. Kind of putting the most important things first.

"Every time I go down, as bad as it is, you get a little callous, a little used to the suffering, but I really pray every time for God to break my heart for the suffering that is down there. Every time I learn something new."

Adams hopes to head back to Haiti this summer, eager to see the orphanage completed. The project still is looking for funding to furnish the building, which includes about 10 rooms, a main hall and an upstairs.

There are plans, too, for the area to also include a school and a chapel.

Land already has been purchased to build the school by a group is led by Indiana University graduates, Dittmar said.

"So we've got almost all Purdue on one side and all IU on the other side, and yet we're cooperating," Dittmar said, laughing. "It's the only time there's peace."

Dittmar, who has been taking groups to Haiti for 20 years, said he's proud to be on the Ephraim board because of the way the orphanage is set up and run.

"I've had a burden for orphans for probably 30 years. My wife and I both," Dittmar said. "It's something I can do. I can't do everything, but I can do this and make a difference in lives. This is the path I've chosen, and it's something worthwhile. I know it's being run right, and that's key to me because I've seen a lot of people doing it for personal gain and wrong reasons down there. This orphanage is actually being done for the kids and done well."




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