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Hastings resident Kari Haege poses for a photograph with two children at a village in Liberia. Haege has planned a benefit for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Calvary Chapel in Red Wing. The proceeds from the benefit are designated for a truck that would take the village's harvest to market.

Kari Haege of Hastings assists residents of Liberia

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When Kari Haege of Hastings went to Liberia in April as part of the adoption process for two children, she did not expect to be impacted as much as she was. The trip has changed her life.

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In Liberia she saw firsthand what poverty does to a country. For many there, rice is the one and only food. There is no electricity and no running water.

Haege wanted to do something to help, and she is.

As part of the Orphan Grain Project initiated in Liberia, Haege and some of her family members, church family and friends are holding a benefit from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, at the Calvary Chapel in Red Wing.

"There is such a huge need in the country," said Haege. "This is actually part of the process."

The objectives of the Orphan Grain Project include creating a way for Liberians to be self-sufficient in generating an income by growing crops and bringing them to market; providing sustainable food for the Kpetelayama Village and orphans; and building a school in the New Life Community that is self-supported from the sale of rice crop.

The Orphan Grain Project is actually part of the larger Global Orphan Outreach program in Liberia, begun three years ago. In April, a new well was drilled in Kpetelayama Village, providing clean drinking water. For years, the people washed and drank from a small, muddy river.

Haege has been working with with Pastor Peter Flomo, a humanitarian, who is dedicated to bringing the country out of poverty.

"He is truly dedicated to turning things around," said Haege. "He is an amazing person."

The people touched Haege when she was there in April. She ate their food, witnessed their hardships, and was inspired by their strong character.

"That's why I'm working on this," she said.

The proceeds from the Sept. 18 benefit are designated for a truck, which would take the peanut and rice harvest to market. Peanuts are rich in protein, a missing part of pregnant women's diets. The country ranks second in the world for maternal deaths.

"Yes, we are working for the future, but we have to do something now for the nutritional part of people's lives," said Haege. "There is an immediate need."

The benefit will include a dinner, vegetables and beverages. Information will be shared about Liberia and the projects under way. A silent auction will be part of the evening. Melody Haege will provide entertainment.

Tickets are $15 at the door, $13 in advance. They can be obtained by contacting Haege at 651-206-7935 or Denise at 651-491-4847; or e-mail at orphan grainproject@gmail.com.

Information about the projects in Liberia are available by visiting the project blog.

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