“I was shaken to the core,” said Kohlman, who received a bachelor of science in nursing from the UK College of Nursing. “I told my husband that we had to do something more to help. We have such an easy life here. We don’t have to worry about getting clean water or when we’ll get to eat next.”
Kohlman says her greatest joy in life is when she is serving other people through her work. She believes one way she can serve and use her nursing skills is through her church’s mission in Haiti. Working with Larry and Diana Owen and their Christian mission, Waves of Mercy, Kohlman began making regular trips down to Haiti to help provide care in the medical clinic, offer preventive health education, and work in the schools and churches.
Kohlman and her husband Steve, an outreach minister at Southland Christian Church whom Andrea describes as gifted at refinishing furniture, decided to use their innate talents to help fund the mission trips. Together, they scour secondhand stores and estate sales for cheap furniture that they can refinish and sell for a profit. Though Andrea Kohlman doesn’t call it a business, they work out of their garage and call their mission ‘Repurposed Soul.’ The Kohlman’s donate 100 percent of the proceeds to the Haiti mission.
Andrea Kohlman said the medical need in the impoverished country of Haiti is so great that it can be overwhelming. Basic medical supplies are in short supply and she has the tough task of providing care to those who need it most. She has made trips through the jungle on foot to visit the huts where families live. She has helped women with severe burns, a common problem because they cook over boiling pots of water that often boil over or splash up and burn them. She has also helped women after childbirth to make sure the baby is healthy and feeding properly.
“The love I receive from the Haitian people and especially the kids is the biggest reward for me,” she said. “When I see children come to the nutrition program and watch their faces as they eat, so full of life and appreciation, and knowing they will walk away with a full belly and not have to scrounge the streets for food that day, it brings tears to my eyes.”
The Kohlman’s next mission trip to Haiti will be in January 2013.
To read more about the Kohlman’s experiences in Haiti, visit their blog at repurposedsoul.tumblr.com. To view a sampling of the furniture the Kohlman’s have refinished and sold, visit their Facebook page.
If you are interested in donating a piece of furniture to the Kohlman’s, you may message them through Facebook or email email@example.com.