Three years ago, Diana Osterhues and Frank Schiro of Santa Clarita, California, went on a short trip to Haiti. They didn’t know it at the time, but it was the beginning of a long-term commitment.
On the plane ride home, they knew God was calling them to do more. “We really wanted to make something lasting,” says Diana. Inspired by their common interest in running, they decided to host their first annual Run/Walk for Haiti
. But they needed to find an nonprofit to partner with.
Through their church, they discovered Children of the Nations (COTN). At the time, Real Life Church, in Valencia, California, was hosting a Million Meal Marathon with COTN—assembling meals to feed children in Africa, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. It was an easy decision for Diana and Frank. That year, they gave all the race proceeds to support COTN’s ministry in Haiti.
The first race went so well, Diana and Frank decided to make it an annual event.
The first race, held in Santa Clarita, California, was a success, and Diana and Frank quickly saw that this would become an annual event. But this year, the third annual race, Diana and Frank went the extra mile.
This spring, Diana and Frank joined a Venture Trip to see for themselves how their efforts are changing children’s lives in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. “It just energized me,” Frank said upon returning, “it affirms that we’re doing the right thing.” Now they’re eager to share their experience with race participants.
In the midst of terrible poverty Frank says he was struck by the amazing hope these children now have.
“There’s such a need in Haiti for help and guidance,” says Frank. But they saw hope in the middle of school yard in Bellevue, Haiti. As Diana interacted with the seventy-five children in COTN’s Haiti Village Partnership Program, she was amazed by the joy they had, even in the midst of their circumstances. “Kids are kids,” says Diana. “It’s about allowing them to be kids, to have fun, be safe, and to have enough nutrition.”
“I’m definitely going back!” says Diana. She loved talking and playing with the children.
While they were in Haiti, Diana and Frank were struck with the urgent need for a school in the community COTN ministers to. Diana and Frank hope the proceeds from this year’s race will bring COTN one step closer to building a school in the community of Bellevue. They believe hundreds of children’s lives will be transformed as a result, just as they saw in the Dominican Republic.
Currently, children in Haiti meet in a makeshift shelter for after-school activities and meals. On their trip, Frank and Diana saw the huge need for a school building and feeding center to serve these children.
Because of partners like you, over the last sixteen years, hundreds of children in the Dominican Republic, once hopeless and out of school, now look forward to bright futures thanks to a good education, nutrition, and medical care. COTN has only been working in Haiti for three years, but because they visited the Dominican Republic as well, Diana and Frank felt like they got a glimpse into the future possibilities in Haiti. “We’ve seen it,” says Diana. “We get it now.”
This year, participants may choose to race in the 5K or compete in the twenty-five mile tour for bicyclists.
by Heather Ostalkiewicz, COTN–USA Staff Writer