Local couple opens orphanage abroad

  • Posted: Monday, May 6, 2013 12:22 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, May 6, 2013 12:45 a.m.
Staff Photo by Amy Banton
Sam and Roxanne Turnipseed pose for a photo.
Staff Photo by Amy Banton Sam and Roxanne Turnipseed pose for a photo.

An Aiken couple has left the comforts of home and moved to another country in hopes to make a positive impact.

Sam and Roxanne Turnipseed moved to Honduras in January to establish and operate an orphanage that will be a safe haven for neglected or abused children. The couple purchased 13 and half acres of land to start building the orphanage in the Quimistan Valley with the goal to change many lives for the better.

“When people say ‘Why would you leave Aiken to move here?’ It’s very simple – because Jesus first loved us,” Roxanne said. “There are so many children here who need the love for Christ.”

The Turnipseeds’ Journey

The Turnipseeds became familiar with the Quimistan Valley through the local nonprofit, the Honduras Agape Foundation, in which they were highly involved with for more than a decade. The couple felt a more permanent calling to the area and started their own nonprofit – the Tranquilidad Foundation.

Roxanne said they came up with the name because a local commissioner’s wife called the land where the orphanage will be constructed “tranquil,” which is what “tranquilidad” means in Spanish.

The couple also wants to establish a day care center. Over the years, the two have heard many stories during their travels in Honduras of single parents having to take their children to work or the eldest children, who may be still quite young themselves, caring for their younger siblings.

“There’s much need here – the answer in simple terms is that there’s no safety net here,” Sam said. “A lot of people can’t understand that there is no safety net here. If you don’t work, you don’t eat.”

Plans for the orphanage

The land already has an incomplete cinder block structure in which the Turnipseeds will build upon. The walls and foundation were established more than a decade ago and have withstood earthquakes and hurricanes, Roxanne said. Once complete, that initial building will be dorm-style housing.

The Rotary Club in San Pedro Sula will help dig a well on the property to ensure clean water for the facility, Roxanne added.

The couple has visited eight or nine children homes in Honduras in efforts to learn from other people who have experience in running an orphanage, Roxanne said.

The Turnipseeds also want to start a few vegetable gardens and maybe even put in a tilapia pond to not only be as self-sufficient as possible, but to teach the children a few things while they’re living at the orphanage or attending day care.

Making Honduras home

The move has been quite an adjustment. Currently, the couple is staying at a missionary compound. They have struggled a bit with the language barrier as neither of them are bilingual but they are picking up a little Spanish as time passes.

Living simply hasn’t been too hard for the Turnipseeds and they enjoy living without so much clutter.

“Culturally, it’s just a slower, less stress-driven lifestyle here which is enjoyable – the simplicity of their life,” Roxanne said. “You can make do with a whole lot less. You don’t need three sets of china and CorningWare.”

The Turnipseeds said that over the years, they’ve learned so much about the people of Honduras including their self-sustainability and optimistic view of life.

“People are so humble,” Roxanne said. “In the midst of having so little, they seem, for the most part, content.”

Sam said no matter their troubles, there’s always a sense of being happy about something despite their troubles.

For more information on the Tranquilidad Foundation and how to help, visit www.tranquilidadfd.com. Donations can be sent to the Tranquilidad Foundation at P.O. Box 5406, Aiken, SC, 29804.

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