Wayne Leis has a soft spot for kids. Over the years he has not only raised his own children but has been a foster parent and soon he will be taking a three- month leave from work to head to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic to teach the children how to repair tools, machines and small engines.
The Hawkesville resident, a mechanic by trade, is collecting shop, mechanic and power tools, as well as school and medical supplies and children’s personal needs like shoes, clothes and bedding in a 20-foot container to send down to the orphanage in San Pedro do Marcoris.
“It affects you when you when you see children in a Third World country,” said Leis. “You just know that you have to do something to help them. I can show them how to repair broken machines and engines. It is what I know and the least I can do.”
Through Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) International, a Christian mission that provides a permanent home for orphaned, abandoned and other at-risk children who live in conditions of extreme poverty, Leis will be helping to build “a future for these neglected kids.”
Four years ago, Leis and his wife Sharon helped their son Jody, the Christian education director at St. James Lutheran, send a 40-foot container to the orphanage full of school playground equipment, school and medical supplies.
“I always told my son, ‘you didn’t find NPH, it found you.’ It grabs you and you realize the organization is not just about improving the orphanage, it there to help the surrounding communities too,” said Leis.
Through a worldwide network of support organizations, the children at NPH are provided with food, clothing, shelter, medical care and an education.
Since its inception in 1954, NPH, which in English means “our little brothers and sisters,” has helped thousands of orphaned children through out the Caribbean and South America.
To date almost 17,000 children have been cared for through the organization.
“The kids at the orphanage become a family,” said Leis. “The boys and girls are raised knowing they will never be forced to leave the orphanage. They are promised they will never be separated from their siblings, or given up for adoption.”
At all NPH homes children have daily jobs, from dusting and mopping to cooking and farming. As they age and turn into young adults the orphans are expected to give a year of service as house directors, medical assistants and office staff.
More than 240 children live at the orphanage in the Dominican Republic and through the program Leis hopes to give them a good understanding of a usable trade and a “vision of the future.”
Using the tools he packs in the container, Leis will demonstrate and teach the children how to build and repair small engines and broken machines around the orphanage. He also plans to turn the container into a shop class for the children.
“I want them to learn respect for the tools, they need to learn how to take care of them,” he said. “Right now they have no concept about taking care of things – I want to change that.”
Leis is looking for donations of shop tools from members of the community which may include safety glasses, diesel generators, electrical cables, sockets, hammers, tap and die sets, drills and ratchets as well as over the counter medication that will be used to help with intestinal worms and rickets.
The shipping container will be sent down to the Dominican Republic this fall and Leis plans to follow in the January 2012.
“Our trips to the orphanage have become part of our story,” said Leis. “It has become so much a part of us it gives life value and gives me energy. It just doesn’t let go.”
On Sept. 10, Leis will be holding a container party where donations can be sent from the community.
For a full list of needed items or to contact Leis visit his website at www.dredproject.org.