Helpers in Haiti: Perham grad starts charitable 7:10 Foundation
Tanja and Jeremiah Dwire’s lives were dramatically changed after a mission trip to Haiti in December of 2012.
After returning to the U.S., the Dwires were inspired to do more to help the people of Haiti – especially widows and orphans.
They created the 7:10 Foundation, based on the Bible verse Zechariah 7:10: “Oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.”
On Friday, April 4, the couple will once again make their way to Haiti, along with a group of foundation volunteers from Blowers Chapel in Sebeka, Minn., Kentucky and Tennessee.
Eventually, Tanja said, they would like to build their own mission in Haiti. For now, they partner with Children’s Lifeline to distribute things like cloth diapers, baby formula, washable feminine pads, school supplies and more.
Haiti is a country on the island of Hispaniola, along with the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean. On Jan. 12, 2010, the island was struck by a 7.0 earthquake. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed by the disaster.
“The country of Haiti was far from thriving before the earthquake; the effects of the earthquake left the country in a devastated, tragic state,” Tanja wrote in the foundation’s blog. “The outpouring of relief immediately after the quake was nothing short of miraculous. The volunteers, the supplies, the money… flowed in from all over the world. Once again we were reminded what the Lord calls upon us to do in time of need. But sadly, once again, the world shortly forgot. The masses of volunteers and supplies and money went home.”
Well, not all of them.
Through Children’s Lifeline, Tanja and the other foundation members have continued to do what they can to make a difference.
For this trip, almost 200 reusable diapers and 400 washable feminine pads have been made and donated.
Tanja said the donations are greatly needed: “My mother-in-law found out that, on average, girls will miss up to 45 days of school because they can’t go to school. That’s huge, when you think about it.”
Also, there is no garbage system in Haiti, Tanja said. So the disposable versions of these products just don’t make sense for people to use. They could only be used once, and then the garbage would just sit around.
Other supplies, like formula, stuffed animals, and personal hygiene products, were already packed up last week for the trip.
“We have 17 full-size suitcases, packed to the weight limit,” Tanja said. Fourteen weigh 50 pounds, and three others are at 70.
The foundation’s fundraising efforts have also collected $5,000 to build a home for a homeless mother and her family. It will be built through Lifeline once a suitable location is found.
Next, Tanja and the foundation plan to help a man named Daniel repair his small home that he shares with 20 other people. He is the only one who has been able to get a job, because there are so few jobs available.
Despite the holes in the walls and roof, dirt floors and overall cramped conditions, Tanja said everything is always clean and tidy.
“They respect what they don’t have,” Tanja said. “It just hits your heart like a ton of bricks. We are complaining for absolutely no reason all the time. So, just to be around these people who have complete and total faith… you just want to help them.”
Tanja said she is often asked why the foundation works so hard to help people in Haiti, when there is work to be done in the U.S.
“We’re all God’s children,” Tanja said. “It doesn’t matter where we live. It takes all of us to make it work, everywhere. We just need to get off our butts and do something.”
Tanja is a Perham High School graduate currently living in Sebeka.
For more information about the 7:10 Foundation, visit 710foundation.org.