In just over a decade, The World Orphan Fund has helped more than 135 orphanages and 10,000 children worldwide, thanks in large part to generous donors.
One of the early, regular contributors to the nonprofit was a seasoned businessman from America’s heartland, the late Stan Herzog of St. Joseph, Missouri-based Herzog Corporation.
Herzog gave personally and through his business, recalls R.J. Johnson, World Orphan Fund (WOF) president.
“Stan made his first contribution toward our first Gala in 2012, and subsequently, he generously donated each year until his passing,” Johnson told The Lion, which is published by the Stanley M. Herzog Foundation.
The ‘Herzog House’ in Uganda
Herzog’s impact meant so much, Johnson says, WOF named a key project after him.
The “Herzog House” is a girl’s dormitory in Nebbi, Uganda, built to accommodate up to 100 students at Acres of Hope, which feeds and houses around 130 orphans, and offers K-8 education.
“The dormitory is named Herzog House in honor of Stan, whose name is stenciled outside on the front and on the ends of both wings,” Johnson told The Lion.
Prior to the construction of the new building, 60 girls were staying in two houses designed for only 18 people.
“Many of the girls had been horribly abused or trafficked and all had been denied the education they are entitled to under Ugandan law,” an article from the WOF website reads. “Now safe and attending school, Acres of Hope has been a real sanctuary for them.”
And the two houses can now be used to offer “family-style care” to the younger orphans, Johnson adds.
Center for Childhood Development in Guatemala
WOF completed a number of other important projects for orphanages around world during Herzog’s partnership.
In 2017, for example, the Walker Center for Childhood Development was opened “to provide the earliest and most effective interventions for those children in orphan care with development delays due to neglect, abuse, and malnutrition,” the WOF website explains.
Johnson says orphanages are often not equipped to recognize and treat such problems, which led WOF to establish the center.
“As the children grow older, addressable issues were becoming permanent disabilities,” he said, underscoring the need for early interventions.
Since its opening, the center has provided over 15,000 therapies for 220 children.
“Through speech, occupational, and physical therapy we fulfill our mission to give children with delays the greatest opportunity for a self-sustaining and fulfilling life,” WOF says. “The program is overseen by married psychologists Paola Pichardo de Hurtado and Luis Hurtado, who we have been working with since 2013.”
A related nutrition program has also reached 2,700 children in 52 homes, according to Johnson, ensuring developing children have their basic nutritional needs met.
Life-giving dam in Honduras
Other Orphan Fund projects are comparatively simpler, yet just as profound in impact.
Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, located in La Venta, is an orphanage that suffered from water shortages during the dry season, threatening its livestock, milk production and vegetable gardens.
“They had the solution, but they didn’t have the funds,” WOF explains. “Engineers determined that the dam they had in place to collect runoff water from the mountainside could be raised by two meters to extend their water supply by 4-6 weeks each year. But they couldn’t afford the $16,000 needed to build it.”
So WOF stepped in and supplied what was needed to raise the dam in 2014, extending the water supply, which in turn led to better crops, used to feed the livestock.
“Improving feed increases milk production by up to 20% and allows the orphanage to reduce the number of dairy cows necessary for milk and cheese or create a surplus they can sell in the local village,” WOF says. “Additionally, plentiful water during the dry season increases the production of vegetables, saving money and improving the health of the children.”
In a recent visit to the orphanage, Johnson saw firsthand how the dam project continues to help.
“The director told me they’ve suffered a severe lack of rainfall this spring, and that the dam expansion from 2014 was the only thing that has gotten them through it,” he said.
These projects are only possible when donors, like Herzog, give to the mission, Johnson says.
Johnson also shared a photo of Herzog, overlayed with the Acres of Hope-Uganda logo and a caption: “Dedicated in memory of Stanley Herzog – father, businessman, humanitarian – for his deep love and support of orphaned children.”