Local adoption agency is making a difference — one child at a time

Camas organization supports orphans in Congo

A former counselor at J.D. Zellerbach Elementary School, in Camas, and her husband are among the newest parents of a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

April and Aaron Marvin, of Vancouver, adopted Kamble, 2, in December 2012.

The Marvin’s household also includes their son Carson, 3, and dogs Addy and Oakley.

“They are best friends,” April said, regarding Kamble and Carson. “They do everything together. They have been inseparable.”

After arriving in the U.S., Kamble learned English in 1 ½ months, and Carson has enjoyed having someone to share daily adventures with.

“He has loved being a big brother,” April said.

The adoption process was facilitated by Our Family in Africa, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Camas.

OFA was founded by Chief Executive Officer Jilma Meneses.

“They are an awesome support system,” April said.

OFA found a lawyer for the Marvins, and provided a driver and an interpreter in Congo.

According to Executive Director Cami MacDonald, more than 100 families from throughout the U.S. have adopted children from the DRC with legal assistance provided by OFA.

Aaron said orphans in Congo are in a perilous situation.

“It’s awful for any kid to not have a family,” Aaron said. “It’s a life or death situation in Africa or Haiti or any Third World country.”

In his young life, Kamble had already survived malaria three times, as well as chicken pox, at the orphanage.

“At an orphanage, two kids died from malaria in six months,” April said.

In November 2012, Aaron, a contractor/builder, transported solar panel supplies to Congo. The panels were installed in March at an orphanage supported by OFA families, as well as at an orphanage and school for vulnerable girls.

The panels provide electricity for refrigeration of fresh produce, medicine and meat. The OFA volunteers have also put up mosquito nets, to prevent the spread of malaria.

The Marvins, married for eight years, had “always talked about adoption,” according to April.

“It was not easy financially,” she said. “There was a lot of saving and fundraising.”

The first photo of Kamble that they saw — taken the day he arrived at the orphanage — is framed in the Marvin’s hallway.

“He was in girls’ clothes,” Aaron said. “He had a blank expression. He was emotionless.”

“Now, he is a really happy little guy,” April said. “He wants to be part of everything.

“He is shy at first, but he opens up,” she added. “He is sensitive and lovable, and he is attached to all of the family — the aunties, cousins and grandparents.”

A fundraising event for Our Family in Africa will be held Saturday, at 6 p.m., at the River’s Edge Hotel and Spa, 4650 S.W. Macadam Ave., Portland.

The event will include dinner, guest speakers and a silent auction. A few tickets remain, at a cost of $125 each. Proceeds will support orphanages in the DRC.

For more information, call (602) 330-6337, email info@ourfamilyadoptions.org or visit www.ourfamilyadoptions.org.