Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Photo: Ian and Janine Maxwell, Canadian couple builds farm, school, orphanage in Swaziland.

Janine and Ian Maxwell run a orphanage, farm and school in Swaziland.
 Janine and Ian Maxwell run a orphanage, farm and school in Swaziland.

It takes a village to raise a child and so, Janine and Ian Maxwell have built one.

Ian is originally from Ottawa and the pair is back in the community this week from their new home in Swaziland, where they have built a farm, orphanage and school that is currently looking out for 148 kids under the age of six.
Their faith-based charity Heart for Africa works on child nutrition and education in Swaziland, a country with high infant mortality and HIV rates.

The couple ran a successful marketing company, but in 2001 Janine was in New York during the 9/11 attacks. She said that was a wake-up call and she wanted to do something larger with her life.

Shortly after that, she took a trip to Africa with some friends and saw a need she could help with.
“It just really changed my life and at the moment I really felt like I could do something,” she said.
The something the couple has decided to do is Project Canaan a farm and orphanage on 2,500 acres of land in a rural area of the country.

The farm has a dairy operation that produces enough milk for the 148 children now living there with some leftover to sell. With the help of the Egg Farmers of Canada, they have a chicken barn with 5,000 hens and they also grow crops, but that has been sidelined by drought.
“We are in the worst drought in recorded history,” she said. “We had to stop growing food, because there is just no water.”

She said the eggs are a vital part of nutrition giving the children protein they otherwise would be hard pressed to get.
In addition to housing the children, the farm also provides employment for 280 people.
Ian said their long-term goal is to see all the students graduate high school and be in a position to help Swaziland get out of the cycle of poverty.
“They will have opportunities in a wide-range of areas where they can really give back to the country.”

Right now the couple’s primary focus is an $800,000 project to get more predictable water to the farm so they can resume growing crops. A new child arrives at the orphanage every 12 days and the Maxwells envision one day having more than 500 kids at the site.

She said their goal is to have a charity that is separate from them that helps kids whether they’re part of it or not.
“It’s already bigger than us and it has to be bigger than, because we’re only two people,” she said. “It takes a village to raise a child.”

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