Helping Hands: Miracle House growing after 6 years
September 5, 2012
The first time Samantha Meister “got wrecked” was in 2007.
The term is used by those, like Meister, involved with local nonprofit Miracle House to describe the feelings from that first visit to the organization’s day schools in Kenya, which provide homeless and helpless children with food, clothing and most important of all, love.
For Meister, her first trip five years ago was life-changing.
“My heart was lost,” she said. “I was in, I was wrecked.”
The vision of Miracle House is to bring hope and healing to those homeless and helpless children, Meister said. They are the desperate, the orphans, the ones who have been cast aside; The organization’s two day schools host roughly 80 of those children, and provide them with the tools necessary to be healthy, happy and believe in themselves.
“Our kids are part of a family now,” Meister said. “They’re no longer orphans once they come into Miracle House. First and foremost, they are members of God’s family, and second of all, they become members of the Miracle House family.”
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The organization started in 2005, with Summit County resident Deanna Bjork. Bjork was on a mission trip in Kenya when the Lord spoke to her, suggesting she start an orphanage in the country.
“Six months later, Miracle House was born,” Meister said. “In September of 2006, we had our first 25 children.”
But, Meister said, they don’t use the word orphanage to describe the schools. They aren’t institutional orphanages – they’re open about 10 hours a day, and do provide the children with food, clothing, some schooling and some medical care, but the most important provision is love. When that care is added into the equation, Meister said, it changes the children’s lives exponentially.
“We go in and show them you are valuable, you are worth everything,” Meister said. “That’s what Jesus taught us … he gave up everything for us, and that’s our role here.”
When children start to feel safe, they start to think about the future, Meister said.
It’s a far cry from the initial “sadness and hardness” many of the children come in with. One boy, at 7 years old, told Meister there couldn’t be a god, since he and his sister lived on the streets and had no food or clothes. Now, a few years later, he and his siblings are thriving, she said.
God is a big piece of the day-to-day. It’s a bigger part that assures the kids their lives aren’t a mistake, “even if they’ve been told that their whole lives,” Meister said.
Within 30 days, the organization plans to break ground on a 10-acre compound, meant to provide living quarters, a vocational center and other amenities to 200 children. The space is aptly named Base Camp – Meister compares it to the base camp climbers have when conquering a big mountain, it’s a place to feel safe.
Within the camp, the vocational center will provide children with the necessary training to move along as adults.
“We want to give that foundation where it begins with hope and turn it into belief,” Meister said.
Meister estimates the entire project will cost about $900,000; currently, the nonprofit has about $50,000 for the first phase, which will cost around $250,000.
“We have enough to start,” Meister said. “Miracle House is a place of miracles.”
New organization volunteer Chase Pfohl is planning his first trip to Kenya in October with his wife, Kaley. He’s excited and a little anxious, but knowing how close the nonprofit’s members are in Summit County, he can’t wait to see what it’s like over there, where he and Kaley get to spend time with the children.
“Just knowing the way that they’re a family here, I can only imagine,” he said.