In wife’s name, local man ships aid to Jordan
By Patricia McGeever
For The Catholic Telegraph
If you ask retired salesman Richard Eisele how he occupies his time he’d tell you, “I’m in the collection business.”
It’s serious business, and he’s not in it alone.
“I ship humanitarian aid to people who desperately need it,” he said.
He collects the donations in the basement of a building at his retirement home and he ships only to the Holy Land. His last shipment contained 60,000 meals, 10,000 articles of clothing, 10,000 medical books and a large number of toys and other items. He concentrates on the Middle East for three main reasons.
“One, the need is there; two, because Christianity is being driven out of the Middle East; and, three is to educate people here about what’s happening over there,” he explained
So how did a Price Hill boy grow up to embrace and love the Middle Eastern culture and its people? It started with his love for one special woman.
Ensaf’s Foundation is named for Eisele’s late wife, Ensaf, who was born in Jordan. She came here to work with her father, who had emigrated years earlier. Slowly they earned enough money to bring over the rest of the family from Jordan. Eisele met Ensaf one day while on a sales call at her family’s chili parlor. He says they knew within five days of meeting that they’d marry. They had 43 years together, and during that time, Eisele learned about and became immersed in his wife’s culture.
Shortly before she died, he and Ensaf, their family and friends, packed up items to ship to the needy in Jordan. But of the entire container, only four boxes made it to its final destination. The rest were stolen enroute. Eisele researched how to better accomplish his goal. He emailed the Latin Patriarchate Twal about his concerns after seeing his name mentioned in an article. That email was forwarded to Father Humam Khzouz and from there the channels opened — both of communication and distribution.
Eisele ships to the Port of Aqaba in Jordan and his shipment is met by officials from the Catholic Church because it has the structure to receive and distribute the goods. The aid is given to anyone who needs it whether they are Christian, Muslim or Jew because, as Eisele said, “If you’re hungry it doesn’t matter what religion you are.”
Jordan has a particular need for aid now as it absorbs refugees from both the Iraq war, and the crisis in Syria.
Eisele obtains his goods from a number of different sources. LaSalle High School recently held a blanket drive. Elder High School had an out-of-uniform day and raised $1,500, almost half the cost of shipping a container. Evangelical Community Church in Springfield Township is a consistent donor of items. St. Antoninus Parish in Cincinnati held a toy drive. Eisele collected boxes of non-perishable food items from the Northern Kentucky Covention Center. A Child’s Hope International provided dry-pack meals. Other groups, individuals and parishes are also vital to his operation. Matthew 25 Ministries in Blue Ash takes care of loading the boxes onto pallets, wrapping and shipping them. What he’s unable to ship, Eisele donates to six half-way houses in the Greater Cincinnati area. And when he needs help loading his trucks to get the goods to Matthew 25, residents of those houses offer to help.
Eisele’s goal is to send one shipment a month. His next one is going out in May.
He’s collected medical equipment, blankets, clothing, bottle water, and books among other things. There is a need for school books for children and adult diapers have proven to be very popular.
The gratitude for the goods is evident in letters and emails received from Father Khzouz. “I convey the Latin Patriarchate’s appreciation for your generosity,” he wrote a letter to Eisele. “May your work and efforts be abundantly blessed. We pray for you and all who collaborate with you in the Ensaf’s Foundation.”
Eisele also likes to cook and garden. He keeps the house plants alive and tends to the many gardens and flower beds at his retirement home. But his passion is the foundation.
“I named it for my wife in her honor. She was one in a billion.
To donate to Ensaf’s Foundation, contact Eisele at [email protected], or by calling 513-969-9491.
This Everyday Evangelist feature first appeared in the April 2014 print edition of The Catholic Telegraph.