Over the years, many people have come through La Gonave to offer assistance to the locals in many forms of aid and community development. Often times, they would have the opportunity to hear of the orphanage and meet Mme Soliette & the children. Few left that place unmoved to want to help. We call these people, “Friends of the Orphanage”.
Some have helped with periodic cash donations for food or rent. Others have sent clothing and educational supplies. All have experienced the limitations of their gifts and the helplessness that inevitably comes from living so far away from the needs.
BUT… since April of 2011, the “Friends of the Orphanage” have organized into a powerful co-operative effort to develop and implement a long term strategic plan for the security and advancement of the “The Jesus Home for Children of La Gonave”. The co-op is called Okipe (Oh-kEE-pAy), which is a Haitian Creole word meaning, “to look after”.
Find a way to join this effort today… you’ll never regret having given your best to those with the least!
MEET THE TEAM
Amy Vail, Chair
My name is Amy Vail, and I have been serving on the Okipe board since 2018. I am currently the Chairperson for the board. I was first introduced to Mme. Soliette and the children in 2011. The director from the summer camp I work at in Canada took a group of staff to Haiti to run camp for Mme. Soliette's orphanage. That experience changed my life and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to continue to help Mme. Soliette fulfill her vision and dreams for the children in Haiti!
My name is Natalie Mansvelt. I am a counselling therapist in Nova Scotia, Canada.
I was first introduced to the Children’s Village in 2011 when I went to Haiti with a team to run a week long camp for the kids. We were able to go back in 2012/2013 to run a second week of camp and on that trip got to see the beginning stages of the village being built. I quickly fell in love with the children and Mme. Soliette’s vision for this ministry.
I recently joined the Okipe board and assist with Communications and Social Media. I’m so excited about this chance to be a part of what’s happening in the Children’s Village.
Beth Peterson, Staff Care and Development
My name is Aaron Dowds from Dunfermline, Scotland. I am married to Lynsey and have 5 wonderful children. I am a pharmacist and Pastor at the Vine church in Dunfermline. I first visited Haiti in 2009 as a pharmacist with a Scottish charity called Lemon Aid. I visited Mme Soliette and her amazing children at her orphanage and was shocked and appalled and the living conditions. When the vision was birthed to build a new children’s village I quickly joined the Okipe team and became the ‘Fundraising Task Force Leader’ with Bill Code. Some years later I took on the chair role before passing the baton to Amy Vail. I am now focusing on supporting Mme Soliette to complete her school building. It has been an honour and joy to serve Mme Soliette and her children all these years and I have gained and received more than I have ever given.
My name is Deanna Stanley, and I’ve been serving on the Okipe board since 2018. I was first introduced to Mme. Soliette in 2011. I was visiting Haiti with a team from church and we brought the kids from the orphanage to the Wesleyan Mission each day for VBS. These beautiful children captured my heart! Each year since then, I have visited the orphanage on our yearly trips to La Gonave. In 2018 my family moved to Haiti to manage the guesthouse for the Wesleyan Mission, and I then became the in-country liaison between Mme. Soliette and Okipe. It has been an honor and a pleasure to get to know her better and learn of her vision and heart for the children in her care.
Hi! My name is Mackenzie Raup and I have been a part of Okipe and the Children’s Village since 2008. I am currently serving on the board as assistant finance director and donor communications chair. I live in Pennsylvania and teach kindergarten through fifth grade English as a Second Language.
I first met Mme. Soliette and got involved with the Children’s Village on a trip to Haiti after my senior year of high school. Mme. Soliette and her heart and vision for the children has always inspired me. I am so thankful to be a part of her dream!
Mackenzie Raup, Communication
My name is Lou Davidson (I'm on the left) and I am pleased to serve on the Okipe Board of Directors. I'm currently responsible for fundraising, no small task! We do all our fundraising in Scotland but most of it would work in other countries too. If anyone has any ideas or events they would like to discuss I'll be happy to help in any way I can.
3 Nurses from Scotland went to Haiti to immunise children in 2009. We met Mme. Soliette and the children she cared for. We came home determined to make a regular commitment to help her. As a result Haiti Help was formed and became a registered Scottish Charity in 2011. Our donors played a major part in building the Children's Village, we have visited the village 9 times since then and have maintained our original commitment to send regular funds.
My name is Joy Irvine. I am part of the OKIPE board and have been a friend of Mme Soliette and the Children’s Village since 2009. In the hard life that is often Haiti one of my greatest joys is listening to Mme Soliette express her vision and dreams for the children and young people who make up the Children’s Village. I leave those conversations humbled and grateful for the privilege to be a small part of fulfilling those dreams.
"Love! There is so much goodness which comes from this organization. Teaching generations how to take care of themselves, living in their culture and changing future generations to come."
"This is so great. It just goes to show what can be done when people pray and believe and are obedient to God. These children and young people have come SO far because of the dedication of so many that believe nothing is impossible with God. Thank you again for all that you are doing to improve this lives of these wonderful people."
"This past week I got the opportunity to go to Haiti and it was one of the most amazing trips I have been on. We are all so blessed here in America and I would gladly go back to those kids in a heart beat."