We couldn't make it through Artreach without Makarios. Their fresh roasted, direct trade, organic coffee (sold through Dominican Joe) keeps us going all day long. But what makes their coffee even richer is the story behind the brew.

Wilner in 2009.
Makarios is a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to educational development in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and other impoverished areas of the world. Founded by Executive Director Sharla Megilligan in the spring of 2004, Makarios' initial projects improved educational opportunities in Haitian villages, called bateyes, on the Dominican Republic's north coast. 

The sale of Dominican Joe coffee helps fund the Makarios school and improves the lives of kids like Wilner. Wilner is around 3 years old and is an AIDS orphan from Chichigua (one of the bateyes Makarios works in). When he was about a year old, his mother died. The Makarios staff would often see him wandering around the village dirty, naked and alone. He didn't smile and although they were told he was fed and taken in each night by someone from the village, it was heartbreaking to see someone so small and so sad trying to get through each day on his own. 

Wilner, happier and healthier at age 3.

Makarios staff decided to check on him regularly and make sure he had clothes and was being cared for, and Maria, a woman from Chichigua, took him in as a son. Last year Makarios took him to the doctor for a checkup and found out he's HIV positive, which would help explain the skin problems and other physical issues he was having. They now take him to the free local AIDS clinic regularly for treatments and he is responding beautifully. He laughs often, loves to play with anyone who will take the time, and is constantly on the move. This year is his first at the Makarios school. The staff of Makarios has a prayer for Wilner. They pray that God, the Father to all orphans, raises Wilner up as a young man with a heart like His own.

You can support the educational, physical and spiritual development of Wilner and other children like him by visiting the Makarios table at Artreach this November 12. For more information, visit

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