A charity event in Kokomo this weekend will help restore hope to victims of sexual violence in Haiti.
Local nonprofit Nadege Inc. will be hosting its second annual Restored Gala Saturday.
In 2012, Nadege co-founder Emily Hays and a group of others took a trip to Haiti with Project 117, founded by Kokomo native Curtis Stout. The nonprofit organization, of which Hays’ husband Stuart Hays served as chairman, worked to help the left-behind children of Haiti by building schools.
“We were tasked with the responsibility of coming up with surveys and going out into the community to find out who was and wasn’t attending school. It was there that we met Nadege,” Hays said. “Through hearing her story, it became a little suspect that she may have been a victim of sexual violence.”
After talking with Stout, Hays said they discovered that sexual violence was the most prevalent form of violence in Haiti. Other organizations that were on the ground in Haiti weren’t specifically coming up with a way to keep these women safe, so in late February of 2015, Hays, Stuart, Beth Waterman and Melissa Kidwell decided to start their own.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and had Nadege’s name on my mind and just sensed that I should look up her name to see what it meant,” Hays said. “It said ‘Nadege – noun: hope’ and it was in that moment that we knew we had to form an organization and God would use it to restore hope to survivors of sexual violence in Haiti.”
Nadege Inc. was officially founded in March 2015 and the organization set off on an ambitious mission: to build a safe house for Haitian women who are survivors of sexual violence and to educate men on the negative effects of violence against women. To achieve their goal, members of the organization worked to come up with fundraising ideas.
During the holiday season in 2015, the nonprofit hosted their first annual breakfast with Santa at Oakbrook Church. The event has been really popular, but something was still missing.
“A group of us were trying to figure out what is an event that will really connect the people of Kokomo to the women of Haiti, because most people that we talk to on a daily basis will never go to Haiti,” Hays said. “It was through a lot of prayer and brainstorming that this whole ‘Restored Gala’ idea came to be.”
Kidwell was one of the big inspirations for the whole idea because her house is full of restored, decorative items that she created herself.
“Nothing captures the vision of what we want to see happen in the life of each woman we serve like seeing something broken and abandoned being restored,” Hays said.
About 25 people restored items for the first year of the Restored Gala, which raised around $45,000. That money was used to build a security wall around Nadege’s property in Haiti where the safe house will soon be built.
Twenty-five local artists have created items for this year’s event, ranging from a birdcage to a bed swing and dresser. While restoring the items, each artist has raised $1,000 in the process that will be matched by a generous donor by up to $25,000.
One of the restorers, Kevin Sprinkle, has participated in the event since its inception. Last year he restored a 1960s kids’ pedal car. With the help of his friend Kenny Gingrich, Sprinkle worked to restore an antique tricycle for this year’s gala.
“I have enjoyed combining some of the things that I like with being able to help such a great organization,” Sprinkle said. “The tricycle just fit my personality and who I am.”
The tricycle took about 25 hours to complete, Sprinkle said, and everything has remained original although they did custom make a few parts.
“The concept of connecting hoped restored to take something abandoned or discarded and restoring it to something beautiful is really great,” he said.
A few of the restored items have even came from Haiti, including bags recycled from old tires and metal art that was handmade out of 55-gallon oil drums.
“That’s kind of the heart behind this event. Haiti has a really creative culture, and we plant to use art therapy in the safe house,” Hays said.
After Saturday’s event, Hays said they are hopeful that construction can begin on the safe house. It may be completed as early as November of next year.
The Restored Gala will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at Oakbrook Church, 3409 S. 200 W. Tickets at the door are $30 per person or $50 per couple.
Last year the organization just did a paper bidding system during the gala, but this year it will also feature an online bidding option for people who can’t make it. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.nadegehaiti.org/restored.