MISHAWAKA AA local church is doing its part to help children around the globe, and they're asking for community support at a fundraiser on Friday. Art for the Heart of Africa is an annual art benefit at the Vineyard Church in Mishawaka. Church organizers display work from regional and local artists during live and silent auctions, with 100% of the proceeds going to Dreamland Children's Home in Yei, South Sudan.
A group of volunteers started the mission in 2009, with a passion to help children in need. The original goal was $5,000 to put a roof on a school. Instead, they raised $15,000 and were able to also start a goat farm. In the last five years, the effort has grown to include building a dormitory for a hundred children, establishing a medical clinic, purchasing a dump truck for transportation, and installing a well for fresh water and solar panels for electricity.
Kathy Smarrella, the Director of Outreach and Spiritual Development at Vineyard, says they have hopes to help more children this year.
"Our goal this year is to raise at least $21,000, and with that money we're going to build small homes for the older children," said Smarrella.
The homes are called tukals and are designed for 2-4 children who have outgrown the dormitory. Mentor families will also live in tukals to offer guidance and support within the community.
"To understand it you have to understand what they've been going through," said Clint Schwartz, the Executive Pastor at Vineyard.
Schwartz says things like electricity and clean, running water are luxuries for the children in the community. The recent construction will make a tremendous difference.
"It's going to bring nutrition, it'll bring health to them, it'll bring better hygiene," said Schwartz. "There's no electricity around Dreamland for miles. When we drove around this past time, it was dark and as we were driving down the hill and away, we turn around and look and saw all these lights lighting up Dreamland for the first time."
The projects are funded through donations at the Art for the Heart Benefit. The annual event takes place again Friday, November 7, at Vineyard Church in Mishawaka. Admission and refreshments are free, and 100% of the art purchases will go to fund the mission at Dreamland. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The silent auction starts at 7 p.m. The live auction begins at 8 p.m. For more information about the Art for the Heart of Africa mission, click here.
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