The Alkare Foundation Provides Food For Orphans
– an excerpt from an article written by Rachel Sauer of the The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, CO.
In 1987, Dutch Afman disembarked from a Pan Am propeller plane in Port au Prince, Haiti. He’d brought little more than the clothes he was wearing for himself, but his suitcase was crammed full of medicine for the children at the orphanage where he’d be serving for several weeks.
Of all the things he learned in his time there, the lesson he felt most strongly came from a Dutch priest: Hungry stomachs have no ears.
Children can’t learn or grow or progress if they don’t have food.
It’s been the guiding principle for the Alkare Foundation, a nondenominational, nonprofit organization that raises money to buy food for orphans in Uganda, Zambia and Mexico.
“There are children who need help and we’re in a position to give it,” Afman, 80, explained.
Afman said he’s long had a heart for helping orphans. As a child in Haarlem, the Netherlands, during World War II, his family hid Jewish boys in their home. His neighbor was Corrie ten Boom, who was sent to a concentration camp when it was discovered she and her family also were harboring and helping Jewish people.
After moving to the United States in 1952, Afman was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War. As a soldier, he helped build an orphanage in Korea.
So, when the call came for missionaries to Haiti, Afman, by then a successful real estate broker, dropped everything and went. The trip opened his eyes and changed his life. Then his beloved daughter, Karla, the only girl in a family of five boys, died, killed by a drunken driver.
“The whole world collapsed on me,” he said. “God pulled me out of it and changed my whole philosophy.”
He returned to college to study horticulture, eventually becoming an arboriculturist, and began thinking about how he could honor Karla by helping the orphans who’d always been on his heart. So, the Alkare Foundation was born.
Its goals, he said, are strictly nutritional: raise money to buy food for children at the Kabwata Orphanage in Zambia, and the Mansion of Angels Orphanage in Tomochic, Mexico and El Pozo Well Rescue House in Mexico City, Mexico.
Afman knew that having the idea to help orphans wasn’t enough, though. He recruited friends and his family to volunteer their time for the Alkare Foundation. And then they began connecting with U.S. service organizations already working in areas of great need and talking with social workers in those areas. They established relationships and began raising money.
“We’re very simple,” Afman explained. “We’re a fundraising organization. Our volunteers are people who have a heart for helping orphans. We’ve had volunteers go to our various orphanages to work, but they pay their own way, so we weed out the tourists.”
The Alkare Foundation, which now has a European branch, began by helping the orphanages in Uganda and Zambia, and in the last several years began working in Mexico.
The Mansion of Angels orphanage in Tomochic, Mexico was built by friends of the Alkare Foundation, Afman explained. Volunteers there had to build a fence around it to keep traffickers from stealing the children.
The El Pozo Well Rescue House in Mexico City is a home for girls who’ve been rescued from trafficking, Afman said.
Each year, the Alkare Foundation distributes $50,000 to $60,000 to the four orphanages, Afman said. One of the organization’s fundraising slogans is that $1 feeds one child for one day.
“That makes it more approachable,” Afman explained. “People think, I can do that. And it makes such a difference for these children. It changes their lives.”