When Adolphus Hall, a Johnson City contractor, and his wife Nyempu, a nurse at Johnson City Medical Center, opened their N&K Variety Food Plus restaurant and grocery on Unaka Avenue early this year, their goal was not just to introduce Johnson City residents to the savory flavors of West African cuisine but to share with them the chance to help some of the hundreds of thousands of Liberian children who lost their parents and their opportunity to go to school in Liberia’s devastating 15-year civil war.
Like many guests of N&K, this newspaper’s Mystery Diner learned of the Halls’ ties to the Christ Children Home near Monrovia over a plate of N&K specialties — Nyempu’s spiced chicken and rice with vegetable stock gravy and fried plantains that received a rave review in our July 27 edition. As he often does, Adolphus was advocating for the work of the orphanage during our Mystery Diner’s visit to the restaurant.
Founded in 2009 by Nyempu’s mother and father, Fungbeh and Neyor Karmue, the orphanage is home to 44 children whose parents were either killed or disappeared in the bloody overthrow of Liberia’s government and years of war and corrupt leadership that followed the violent rebellion. And according to Adolphus, it is the main reason the couple opened their restaurant.
Like Nyempu’s mother, a traveling nurse for Mountain States Health Alliance who works six months of every year in the United States to earn money for the orphanage, and her brother, Quanuquanei Karmue, an adjunct professor and doctoral candidate at East Tennessee State University who also travels regularly to Liberia, and her aunt Gormah Karume who cooks at N&K, the Hallls are consummate fundraisers for the orphanage.
Neyor Karmue escaped after being taken to the killing fields during the war. Adolphus’s brother was killed. And their entire family is dedicated to the orphanage’s mission to provide a future for the children of Liberia who were orphaned by the violence.
So all tips left at the restaurant and a good share of its proceeds go to support the home and a project under way to expand it from its tiny one-acre compound to a spacious 19-acre campus with separate boys and girls dormitories, a cafeteria, and a new multi-functional school for the children and for adults in the surrounding community.
Land for the new home has been secured. Construction of the dormitories and school is under way. The Halls’ immediate goal is to raise about $110,000 needed to complete the buildings. And their first public fundraiser for the expansion will be held Oct. 25 at The Venue in King Center downtown.
The Hope for Liberian Oraphans benefit will include a sampling from N&K’s Liberian menu, live West African music and a dancing demonstration, bidding on several “Nights of Luxury” at the Carnegie Hotel and other donated gifts. Pastor Phillip Rogers from Embreeville Church of Christ in Erwin, who just returned from his second mission trip to the Christ Children’s Home, will speak about its work and his church’s commitment to help expand it.
The evening will begin at 5 with a meet and greet and wrap up about 9:30. Proceeds from the auction will go to the orphanage and all donations will be welcomed. Admission is free and all that is needed is for those who wish to attend to RSVP by calling N&K at 202-3662 or by stopping by the restaurant at the corner of Unaka and East Oakland avenues.
For others who wish to help, tax deductible donations to the nonprofit Christ Children Home Education Fund CCHEF may be made by mail to 1015 E. Unaka Ave., Johnson City, TN,37601.