How Ivan became ‘dad’ to 110 Kenyan kids
MORE than a decade ago Lismore man Ivan Budulica made the courageous decision to sell his three properties and, with a suitcase in hand, start an orphanage in a small community in Kenya.
The Mission in Action orphanage now cares for 110 kids, and supports 35 more children to get an education.
Mr Budulica is currently visiting the region, as well as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, seeking new sponsorships and sharing the progress of MIA with others.
"I didn't expect to be as big as we are today," he said. "We have a full primary school on site."
"We feed families, we clothe families, we school children who are not in the mission, we have them on sponsorship."
The Mission in Action orphanage and school are based at Piave, on the outskirts of Nakuru in Kenya's southwest.
Mr Budulica, who is called 'Dad' to the 110 orphans as well as the other Piave children, said it had been an amazing experience to witness the orphans grow and develop.
"The children are very confident within themselves," he said. "Some of them already know what they'd like to do, who they'd like to be.
"Some of them would like to be nurses, some of them talk about lawyers, teachers, one of them wants to be a pastor.
"Some of them feel like they are at home ... we're trying to be like a home.
"And teenagers are the same here, there and everywhere."
While in Lismore Mr Budulica is spending time with family, including his new granddaughter.
He's also visited Wyrallah Rd Public School and the Lismore Baptist Church, regular visitors and supporters of MIA.
John Wilson, the pastor of the baptist church, visited the orphanage in 2012 and plans to return with a group in September.
"I was quite curious to see how this organisation was operating," Mr Wilson said.
"It's an incredibly well-run orphanage ... to ensure the 100 or so young people get a good life, physically, emotionally and spiritually, it's inspiring he'd be willing to make that sacrifice."
Mr Budulica, who is an ex-plumber, said anyone could help make a difference.
"Sponsorship is fantastic because it's a consistent flow of funding for the mission as a whole," he said.
"If people want to do a one-off donation that's okay too, through the website."
To support MIA, visit www.missioninaction.com.au