Couple with Michiana roots helping Haitian orphans sew their way to a better life
A local couple with roots in Niles have put down new roots in Haiti where they are both teachers. They've dedicated their retirement to helping improve the lives of Haitian children. Now the couple is hoping the generosity of others will help them continue their mission.
Ginny Bishop has been sewing most of her life. Her grandmother taught her to sew at age 9. She didn't know then the threads of her life would ended up running through the fabric of the lives of countless Haitian orphans.
"I work in an orphanage where the children are not to be adopted," said Bishop. "They are growing up to be Haitian citizens."
Ginny moved to Haiti 22 years ago to be a teacher, but over the course of her journey her mission changed -- Especially after disaster struck in 2010.
"I heard a staggering statistic that there were 400,000 orphans after the earthquake," said Bishop.
She knew then she had to do something.
"Many of them were rescued from the streets," said Bishop. "They either lost parents in the earthquake or they had been left by their parents somewhere."
Now she's working to give those who don't get adopted tools to build a life of their own.
"What I do is teach sewing in a kind of career tech school where the kids are learning various skills so they can have a career when they are aged out," said Bishop.
But like many other orphanages resources can be scarce.
"I brought down 17 sewing machines that were donated all used and in various conditions and on a good day I may have 3 or 4 that are working right," said Bishop.
She's now looking to get ten new sewing machines.
"To have them all alike will make it so much easier not only for me as the teacher, but for the kids too," said Bishop.
Bishop's husband Ron, a Michigan native, moved to Haiti after retirement to also teach. He was the first one to bring the idea of GoFundMe after a visit with a fellow teacher at the Van Buren Technology Center in Lawrence, Michigan.
"I had never heard of it and she said yeah go online and check it out, " said Ron Bishop.
He was hesitant at first, but decided to go ahead with it.
Now over $2,500 has been raised -- well ahead of their goal.
For Ginny Bishop achieving that goal means so much more than ten sewing machines.
"They will be able to survive well and have good jobs if they continue to pursue their goal," said Bishop.
And so she continues to sew her way to that final goal of a better life for her students.
"As long as we are healthy and we are helpful we are there," said Bishop.
If you would like to help the Bishops with their fund raising efforts visit their GoFundMe page.