On July 10th, 2023 we had official Grand Opening. We had a fabulous party, a delicious banquet, we sang, we had a worship service, we hugged on each other, we cried and we thanked God. After 10 years of hard work, prayer, construction, defeats and victories we could finally look each other in the eye and say “WE DID IT!”. We could not have done it without the work from our volunteers, the funds from our donors and the lovingkindness of our God our Father. May He continue to bless us in the years to come.
Since 2012 the objective of The Emiliani Project in Colombia is to rescue orphaned and abandoned children living in poverty in the city and put them on a path to a normal, healthy life. Working with a local and experienced charitable foundation – Fundacion Gente Unida – our goal is to open our new home Hogar de Cristo in July of 2023.
Many people ask us about how we ended up getting involved in Colombia. Questions range from “why Colombia?” to “what exactly is the Emiliani Project doing to help the children there?” Like any journey, there are many factors that led each of us to Colombia and there have been many twists and turn along the road. Let’s start with the end in mind. The Emiliani Project has constructed 10+ buildings in the mountains of Caldas, Colombia, and we are now ready to house and nurture orphaned or abandoned children. It has been a labor of love.
When the Emiliani Project was given the land to develop, there were only two buildings on the entire property: the vacation house at the top of the hill and a green cinder block guest house. After coming up with a plan for how to develop the property with all of its challenges due to the terrain, the initial construction began on the first dorm, its accompanying bathroom and two schoolhouses. We have been fortunate with our partnerships to find skilled architects and workmen who have donated much of their time to this cause. Since those early buildings were built, we have been, one building at a time, living in a hand-to-mouth fashion. Each building begins with a plan. We raise enough money for it, transfer that money to Colombia in order to purchase the materials, and then either hire local workers or coordinate volunteer trips to help defray the cost of labor. Usually, a volunteer trip begins a new building. It is always exciting to see how far we can get in just one week. Some of the projects have been large, like the cafeteria which required a lot of money and more than one trip. And, some of the projects were smaller, like when a boy scout troop came down to build an outdoor picnic area. In the future, development will continue as we hope to add more dormitories, a chapel, and additional administrative buildings.
All of what you see was accomplished by funds raised through donations and volunteers. A non-profit for organization for children, 100% of those donations have gone to this project. The Emiliani Project board members are also volunteers. Furthermore, much of the building material that we have chosen to use is both modern and made locally in Colombia. They are very proud of these modern building materials and we are happy to work with them as they provide a high-quality end product that will last much longer than the usual cinder block materials common to this region. In general, every effort has been made to build a very durable and long-lasting facility that meets or exceeds the standards necessary for creating a home for these remarkable children.