100 bunk beds for orphanage
Winchester — As soon as Glenn Horst saw the piles of lumber, he knew they would be perfect instruments to help change lives.
The wood — parts of packing crates used to ship products to the United States — was just what the former pastor and carpenter needed to make bunk beds for orphans in Africa.
Learning that he could have the wood at no cost was the icing on the cake, because it expanded the scope of what he could do.
Horst’s immediate goal is to make the parts for 100 bunk beds, which will be packaged, shipped and assembled at an orphanage in Ntagacha, Tanzania.
“It is really going to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” said Horst, 74, of Frederick County. “From sleeping on the ground in a hut to crawling in a bed with clean sheets — can you imagine what that would be like?”
Ultimately, he hopes to make 300 to 600 beds to send overseas.
The village where the orphanage is located has been adopted by Teamwork Ministries International, a nonprofit mission organization started by Horst’s daughter Regina Chacha and her husband Dr. John Chacha.
Ntagacha is his hometown, and the family spends part of the year there and part in Martinsville.
Teamwork Ministries was started in 1988 with an initial focus to train Christian leaders worldwide, Regina Chacha said. But during their travels, her husband recognized a need in his home village for a church facility and an improved school.
Called Teamwork City of Hope, the village project now houses a mission guest house, a children’s home, a primary school and a medical clinic that serves the region, Regina Chacha said.
The village’s greatest challenge is a constant struggle for adequate water to fulfill its needs, she said.
While it is striving to be self-sustaining, it currently relies on private donations and child sponsorships to maintain the campus.
The children learn practical skills such as farming, cooking and tailoring along with their school work.
“We also have farmland where the kids grow about 90 percent of the food that they eat,” she said. “They take great pride in planting, tending the crops and finally harvesting what they have grown.”
The children’s home has about 100 children, many of whom were orphaned by AIDS, she said. Some children also board there and will be excited to have more beds. “Each bed can sleep four kids — two in each bunk. That might seem odd here, but to kids over there, sleeping two in a bed is quite common.”
The experience needed to take on the bed project came from being a carpenter and owning a contracting business for 33 years, Horst said. But the heart for it probably stems from his 41 years as a Mennonite pastor.
He has made similar beds — as well as desks, tables, benches, shelves and other projects — during visits to the village over the years, John Chacha said.
“His most popular project with the kids was a playground he built a few summers ago,” he said. “None of our kids had ever experienced playground equipment, and they are so excited to have a place to play, thanks to him.”
His father-in-law’s love for the children and the village has been immeasurable, John Chacha said.
Horst has visited the village four times and loves the projects he does there. But the conditions are not always ideal for accomplishing his goals.
The power tools are operated with a generator, which must be refueled, and he does not have access to other tools he usually uses in his shop.
Horst initiated the idea for the bed project, but had no clear way of carrying it out. Then last fall his friend Bill Renkenberger of Frederick County told him about a company — its leaders requested anonymity — that would let him have wood from its packing crates at no charge.
“I feel like this is what God wants Glenn to do and all of us to help orphans in Africa who have nothing,” Renkenberger said.
The company donated 200 Oriented Strand Boards (made of manufactured wood) and nearly 1,000 3- by 4-inch and 4- by 4-inch boards, which work out perfectly for the parts of the bed, he said. The long, thick OSB boards were just right for the bed bases, and the others make up the frames, he added.
The project started as something Horst did alone, but others have offered to help, and he is glad to take it. He has had about 30 people come to help in his shop, adjacent to his house.
Fellow retired Mennonite pastor Paul Mishler and his friend Sam McNeely took some of the boards to work on in a shop near Luray.
Because the boards and labor are donated, the only cost associated with the beds is the bolts needed to put them together, which Teamwork Ministries bought, Horst said.
He obtained them at a wholesale price from Jno. S. Solenberger & Co. in Winchester, so the cost of each bed works out to $8.
“If we would have had to purchase the lumber, it would cost $8,000 for 100 beds,” he said.
Even the shipping is covered. A church in Chambersburg, Pa., is storing the bed parts in a crate, and when they total 100, it will pay to ship the items to Africa, he said.
Regina Chacha said she was not surprised by her father’s decision to make the beds. He has always been dedicated to helping people, not only physically but spiritually, she said.
“To him, it is not always about the money, but about the service,” she said.
Horst and his wife of 54 years Velma have four daughters.
From 1963 to 1996, he owned Glenn R. Horst Quality Carpentry Contractor in Frederick County.
He also worked as a Mennonite pastor from 1963 to 2004, including 20 years as the pastor of Stephens City Mennonite Church.
— Contact Laura McFarland firstname.lastname@example.org