I long to be passionate. To have that deep sense of purpose and devotion to something, to anything. I have witnessed such passion. I have had the privilege of seeing this devotion. There are two people who epitomize passion, and I am fortunate enough to know them and love them and be related to them, in fact. They are my Grandparents, Fred and Bonnie Cappuccino. Two remarkably amazing people, whom I and thousands of others, can thank for our existence in this world. The story of my Grandparents has been told by many, it is long and beautiful, heartbreaking and hilarious. It is the story of two people who have devoted their lives to a cause and in doing so, made this world a better place.
My Grandparents life together began almost 60 years ago, when Fred Cappuccino a Methodist minister married Bonnie McClung a nursing student in 1953. They held the common idea that they did not want to add to an already over populated world and decided to only have two children and to also adopt two children. This was the original plan. In the end however, the Cappuccino clan consisted of twenty one children, 19 of whom were adopted, mainly from Asian countries. You can imagine what a family reunion is like.
Many people ask me why my grandparents began Child Haven International. I like to believe that my Grandma finally realized she couldn’t adopt every child in need and had to find another way to help them. And my Grandfather, who cannot say no to the wishes of his wife, went well along.
Inspired by the ideals and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, Child Haven International was founded and registered as a charity in 1985. Its mission is to assist children and women in developing countries, who are in need of food, education, health care, shelter, clothing, emotional and moral support.
Child Haven has six homes in India, one in Nepal, one in Tibet in China and one in Bangladesh. The homes accept children who are disabled, parentless, or from socially disadvantaged situations and who are destitute, meaning that they do not receive even one good meal a day.
Girls and boys are treated equally, and without regard to race, caste, color, or religion. Living is simple and meals are vegetarian. They try not to Westernize the children, but rather attempt to raise them according to the highest ideals of their own cultures. All religions are respected and they encourage the heritage of each child, whether Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, secular or other.
Destitute children from birth to six years of age are referred to Child Haven by local social welfare agencies, village leaders, and through word of mouth. Child Haven Homes provide full care through high school (Tenth Standard), and then provide vocational training or in some cases college or university education, so that each child can enter the local society as a self-sufficient adult.
My Grandparents spend nearly every waking hour working for Child Haven. When they are not traveling throughout Canada attending numerous fundraising dinners, they are at home in their little farmhouse in Maxville, ON Canada planning, thinking, talking, and emailing about Child Haven.
My Grandmother visits every home 4 times a year. I have been fortunate enough to go with her on quite a number of these amazing and inspirational visits. The entire trip takes 6 1/2 weeks from start to finish, and encompasses all 9 homes in 4 countries. She meets with the staff and children to address any issues and to celebrate various events throughout the year. She also meets with the local and national boards to address larger issues and plan for the future needs of the various homes. Her visits are always cause for celebration. The children love and respect her and many think of her as their mother.
I have been traveling with my Grandmother on the May/June trip for the last 4 or so years. It is the trip that not many like to go on due to the extreme heat and humidity that time of year. This year I am privileged to go on two trips with my Grandmother, and I currently find myself in Nepal getting packed for the next leg of the journey.
I am constantly amazed by the passion the my Grandmother exudes. She has endless amounts of patience and energy to last through the many many meetings and discussions and countless hours of travel time. My grandmother and Child Haven have a symbiotic relationship, each thriving and sustaining the other. Child Haven is her life and her life has made Child Haven and the lives of so many children and women possible. Truly amazing.
What inspires you? Are you truly passionate about anything? How do you sustain that passion?
Thanks for reading!