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She’ll be returning to Guatemala soon but, at the moment, former Kamloops resident Naomi Heye is back home and looking for support.
She is trying to establish a home for physically disabled children in the Central American country.
As a nurse, Heye said she’s always had a special place in her heart for children and has worked with them and premature babies.
Heye said her passion regarding the plight of Guatemalan children with disabilities — and because she’s a Christian — sparked her desire to start the home.
She also said some Guatemalan families are so poor they can’t even afford to feed their children.
“And they don’t know how to — there’s no resources whatsoever,” she said.
“So, I really have this desire to give them a good quality of life that would otherwise be unavailable to them.”
Heye is still looking for a building and raising money for the project. She said she also needs certification from the Guatemalan government, noting that should be in place by next March.
Fundraising has been somewhat slow, Heye said. So far she’s raised just just $6,000 out of her goal of $10,000 needed to get the home going.
She also needs more donations to cover the $2,600 monthly payments she said it will cost her to keep the facility running.
Moving to the River City when she was nine, Heye graduated from Kamloops Christian School in 1997 and completed her nursing degree from Thompson RiversUniversity in 2002.
After school, Heye worked with children as a nurse in places such as North Carolina, Arizona, B.C. Children’s Hospital and even an orphanage in Haiti.
She also made it back to Kamloops, working in the intensive care nursery, where she worked from 2006 until she left for Guatemala in 2009.
In that time, Heye said, she’s worked at two orphanages.
Knowing the struggles of disabled children, she felt compelled to start her own orphanage for kids with physical disabilities like autism and cerebral palsy — children who are often abandoned.
“I want to be able to care for them but also to teach others around and teach the kids themselves, that they’re important and worth something to God and to us,” Heye said.
She wants to establish a family-like environment, and hopes to house 10 children and eventually a daycare as well.
This will allow parents to drop off their children for the day with Heye, she said, and allow her to help more children.
She also wants to educate families on how to care for children with disabilities.
The 10 children will live at the home, where Heye plans to provide them with all the proper medical care, food, shelter, clothing and any particular therapy their conditions might warrant.
The kids will also take part in Bible studies and Heye said she plans to have a teacher visit the home for tutoring.
She plans to be in Kamloops for the next week or two, looking to fundraise for the home.
For more information, contact Heye at email@example.com.