In July 2020, myLIFEspeaks was contacted by Haitian Social Services (IBESR) asking if we could take in more abandoned children. This particular time was regarding two little girls with special needs and a little boy who were abandoned at a Port-Au-Prince hospital. However, they told us they were mainly concerned about the little girls’ placement as they didn’t think the little boy would survive.
Sadly, we get these kinds of calls from Haitian Social Services often. Abandoned children at Haitian hospitals, especially those with special needs, are a common occurrence. Mike Wilson, Co-Founder, and CEO of myLIFEspeaks, explains it in a very blunt way, "Like counties in the United States have an animal shelter, every hospital in Haiti has an abandoned children's unit."
"Like counties in the United States have an animal shelter, every hospital in Haiti has an abandoned children's unit."
We had been praying about the addition of a sixth Family Home as we continue to expand our family-based approach to orphan care in Haiti. At the time, the funding for a sixth family home had recently become available thanks to our friends at the Tim Tebow Foundation. This time when Haitian Social Services called, it was a possibility for us to discern taking in these children and placing them in a forever family.
myLIFEspeaks staff set up a time to visit the children and do a proper assessment to see if we would be able to care for their needs. On September 16th, 2020, Missy Wilson (myLIFEspeaks Co-Founder), Rhonda Nisbett Pierre (Public Health Liaison), Benjamin Saint Jean (Director of Family Empowerment and myLIFEspeaks’ social worker) and Claudy Antoine (myLIFEspeaks driver) went to Port-Au-Prince to the General Hospital to evaluate the two little girls. At the time, all we knew about them was that they were between 1.5 and 2 years old, had special needs, and had been in the Abandoned Children’s Unit for two months after being found left alone outside the hospital gate.
Our staff got to the hospital around 10:30 in the morning and were escorted by the Head of Pediatrics to the Abandoned Children’s Unit. We use the word “unit” loosely. The abandoned children’s area is a hallway outside of the hospital. The children stay in cribs and have volunteers who come and look after them during the day. These caregivers are not nurses, just local women willing to help out. The hospital does not provide any food, diapers, or clothes. Anything the children are wearing or eating comes from outside help.
We were able to meet the two little girls, Ella and Zara, and assess them for special needs and developmental delays. Upon evaluation, we concluded that Ella has cerebral palsy, spasticity, and some developmental delays but is full of potential. We learned that Zara is blind and has mild microcephaly but overall she was alert, happy, and longing for attention and love.
In the bed with Ella was another little boy who was extremely frail and sick. We realized that this was the little boy Haitian Social Services had initially told us about who wasn’t expected to live. His name is Zion and we believe he was around 10 months old at the time. He was brought to the hospital a month ago by his mother to be treated for congenital syphilis when she abandoned him. He reminded us of Nash and Jonathan, two of the children already in myLIFEspeaks’ care, when we found them similarly neglected and abandoned years ago. Zion was in desperate need of a loving family and medical intervention.
It became clear that these three children were supposed to be part of the myLIFEspeaks forever family. We completed the necessary paperwork and made preparations to ensure we were ready once the Haitian government cleared them for release to us. On September 25th, we went back to the hospital to pick up Ella, Zara, and Zion and bring them home.
“Once all the paperwork was completed, they said we were free to go. All four of them," Missy Wilson stated, "Yes, I said all four children were ready for us to take them."
Between the time of our initial visit and return to bring the children home, a fourth child, a little girl named Nora, was brought to the same abandoned children’s area. Nora had been abandoned at a different HIV hospital but was cleared as not HIV positive and moved to the same hospital as Ella, Zion, and Zara three days before we were coming to get them. Nora has special needs as well. We believe she has a developmental delay; potentially cerebral palsy.
In prayer, we decided Nora was meant to come home to Neply with a family too.
Ella, Zara, and Zion joined our newest Family Home with parents Marcelin and Donia Joseph. Marcelin is the Assistant Director of Security at myLIFEspeaks. He and his wife, Donia, have two biological children and also raise their niece, Sara, as their own. They are thrilled to add Ella, Zara, and Zion to their family!
Nora joined one of our other Family Homes with parents Rigal and Mirlande, who already have three myLIFEspeaks' children in their forever care and two biological children. Nora is their first child with special needs.
When we brought Ella, Zara, Zion, and Nora home to Neply, they were welcomed by an entire community waiting to greet them. Dozens of people came to help bathe, feed, and care for them and welcome them home. These children went from being discarded and abandoned to being treated like kings and queens; a welcome beautifully foreshadowing the kind we believe Jesus has waiting in heaven someday.
See how the children are doing today!