A heart for a home miles away
Nonprofit orphanage assists kids in Indonesia
Doug Ramsay photo
The VanAssche family gather at April VanAssche’s parents’ farm last week. On the left from top are Gracie, 15, April and Annie, 9. Center from top are Maddie, 17, and Trevor 13. And on the right, iså husband Jay and son Tully, 9.
SNOHOMISH — 8,137 miles away from Snohomish lies Bali in Indonesia. The island nation, south of the Philippines, can seem worlds apart from the United States.
When April VanAssche first heard about an orphanage for impoverished youth in Bali, she had to look up the island on a map. Three pilgrimages later, Bali holds a special place in her heart, and she considers the 35 kids at the home like family. Later this month, VanAssche, along with her husband and three of their children, will make the trek to Bali once again.
A mother of five and Snohomish High’s girls soccer coach, VanAssche first heard about the nonprofit My Father’s Home from her friend Kim Boyer. The organization supports 35 underprivileged children in Bali through providing them shelter, food, clothing and an education.
While in Bali, VanAssche loves to lend her time coaching the youth in soccer and other sports.
“I never in a million years thought I would be able to go there,” VanAssche said. “It’s kind of like they’re part of our family
now,” she said, “we know every single kid’s personality, we know what they like and what they don’t like, and they know us too.”
The nonprofit coalesced in 2007, when Boyer’s mother, Marian, paid to construct the orphanage after learning about the need for help for impoverished Balinese children from her aide, Tasha Darsono.
Darsono, a Bali native, expressed to Marian how much need there was for a safe place for children where they could be cared for. In 2009, My Father’s Home opened.
Photo courtesy April VanAssche
The VanAssche’s trips to Bali have acquainted them with the home’s 35 children, who are all pictured here with the VanAssche family from a trip last June. The picture was taken at Lovina Beach near the home.
In 2010, Boyer asked VanAssche if she wanted to begin sponsoring a young girl named Eka living at the site. VanAssche started receiving pictures and occasional updates from Eka about how she was doing in school. Soon after, VanAssche made her first trip to Bali to finally meet the children there.
During her visits, VanAssche enjoys seeing how the kids have grown since she last saw them. She is amazed at how hard they work, and how selfless they are.
Things that many kids in America take for granted, like spending $2 on candy at the grocery store, are exciting to kids who come from such extreme poverty.
VanAssche has taken two of her daughters, Gracie and Maddie, with her to Bali to meet the children at My Father’s Home. Gracie, a senior at SHS, said that her first time in Bali was an “eye-opening experience.”
Although English is not the first language of the kids, they always find a way to communicate with each other.
A favorite part of visiting is the “love that they have for each other … they just want to be near you or hold your hand or put their arm around you,” Gracie said.
Right now, 16 of the 35 children at My Father’s Home are about to embark on specialized secondary education, where they will begin training for their future careers. Fifteen of them
will be going into nursing, and one will be taking classes in culinary arts.
Because this is equivalent to kids in the U.S. going off to college, VanAssche said that the needs for the kids’ sponsors right now are greater than ever. Without secondary education, these kids will go back into the cycle of poverty that brought them into My Father’s Home.
If someone is interested in sponsoring a child, they can visit www.myfathershome.net for more information.
As long as the VanAssches have the means to continue, she will come back and visit the children of My Father’s Home as much as she can.
“My heart is halfway in Bali and halfway in Snohomish,” VanAssche said.
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