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Wilmington couple building orphanage in Guatemala

READ MORE: Wilmington couple building orphanage in Guatemala

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington couple is building hope by building an orphanage in Guatemala. It all started with a little bracelet. Steve Melia's brother sat next to a man on an airplane wearing one to support an orphanage in Guatemala. Now the Melias are trying to raise money to build a girl's facility next door they say is very much needed.

Many of the Guatemalan orphans come from abused, abandoned parents. Some have seen their parents kill each other. Others' parents are alcoholics, drug addicts, or in jail.

"Guatemala's a very poor country," Kim Melia said. "On average you make a dollar or two a day."

One of the first kids Steve and Kim met on their trip to Guatemala in May was a boy named Carlos.

"From age four to eight, his parents every day would send him on a bus instead of to school to sell things and earn money, and they were alcoholics, so they would just take his money and buy alcohol or drugs or whatnot, every day for four years," Steve said.

The Hogar Miguel Magone Orphanage located on the outskirts of Guatemala City started 13 years ago with a couple taking an abandoned child into their home. It's now home to 50 orphans; all boys. Because there wasn't enough space or supervision, the girls had to go to other orphanages or go back to their dysfunctional families.

"It was just so sad to see brothers or sisters split up, and that's one of the reasons we got behind it," Steve said. "And what's great is they had the property next door, so they can use a lot of the same facilities, but they'll have their own place to sleep, their own cafeteria, their own school building and supervision more than anything."

The orphanage does not receive any government money, so the Melias have set out to raise the $72,400 on their own. Furnishing the girls' facility will cost several thousand more.

"Any donations can help just make their life a little bit better, just a little bit easier," Kim said. "Have running shoes, have clean shirts and clothes to wear and food to eat and all that kind of stuff."

The Melias have already raised close to $50,000 in three months, and they say every dollar donated is well worth it. If you'd like to make a donation to help pay for the girls' orphanage, visit or

The Melias are returning to Guatemala in August, and volunteers are welcome to go. You can also buy one of the bracelets for $10 the Guatemalan orphans helped make.

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This is not about what I do,

This is not about what I do, it is about the trust I have in Kim, Steve and Mike Melia. Coming from a place where I received help to raise my four children, I understand what an impact a little help from outside can have. Now my prayer came true and I can give back. However I choose carefully where I send my money. It is important for me to know that more than 80% of what I send goes to the cause not to the fund raisers. With this Orphan's Project I know that 100% of my money reached the cause. I am so grateful for Melia's family initiative and for the opportunity for good deeds they have created, out of pure desire to do something great.

I also know these great

I also know these great wonderful people the Melia's are awesome. The bracelets are not just your ordinary bracelets the kids make these and they are really great colors and something you would be proud to wear and support this cause. Buy several give them as gifts. My girls Love theirs. Sharon McBeath

I know this couple and while

I know this couple and while they have done other great fund raising projects in the past, I think this is the biggest. I have helped with over $100 because I know it is going to the right place!

Orphan"s Hope Progect

FYI...ALL money donated goes directly to the project...there are no administrative costs...thank you...