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Meet myLIFEspeaks' Families!

Updated: Oct 13, 2023



At myLIFEspeaks, we approach orphan care differently than most through a family-centered care model. In a country that lacks basic infrastructure, we've established Haitian Family Homes, comparable to the American foster care system, to ensure that children remain within loving families, rather than ending up in orphanages or on the streets.


myLIFEspeaks works closely with the Haitian government and Haitian Child Services (IBESR) to place orphaned and abandoned children, many of whom have severe special needs, in loving forever families supported by myLIFEspeaks.


Many of the children who have been legally entrusted to our forever care by the Haitian government were previously abandoned at hospitals, left to fend for themselves on the streets, neglected and abused, or left behind with no one to care for them.


We believe that children belong in families, not orphanages or institutions.


We believe that children belong in families, not in orphanages or institutions. We do everything we can to make a loving, forever family a reality for every child we encounter. To date, myLIFEspeaks has given a second chance at LIFE and a loving forever family to 32 previously orphaned and abandoned children.

The even greater number that we are especially proud of are the hundreds of children in our local and greater community who have STAYED within their families, with their biological parents, because of our Family Empowerment and Nutritional Assistance programming.



In Haiti, many children are relinquished to orphanages out of desperation and poverty; not because they are actually orphans. In fact, studies show that over 80% of children in Haitian orphanages have a living parent or relative nearby. Sadly, many Haitian orphanages are corrupt institutions that benefit and profit from parents relinquishing their children under misleading and false promises of a better life for their children. More often than not, these children live in horrific conditions and become increasingly at risk of severe abuse and trafficking. You can learn more about Haiti's Orphanage Crisis and how myLIFEspeaks fights for families, here.


 

Let's meet the myLIFEspeaks families!



MARKENSON AND GERTHA


Photo: LSW Photography

From Left to Right: Gertha, Merdine, Saika (bottom middle), Markenson (top), Clara, Kingerly (bottom middle), Jonathan


Markenson and Gertha became a myLIFEspeaks Family first to little Merdine and then Saika. In 2016 they welcomed Jonathan and Clara into their home after the siblings were released to myLIFEspeaks by Haitian Child Services after being abandoned and neglected at a hospital. Gertha and Markenson also have one biological daughter, Kingerly. They do an amazing job caring for their special needs and typically developing children together as one family. Gertha and Markenson will tell anyone who asks, caring for children that are not their own has been more of a blessing than they ever expected and they are both so grateful to God for giving them such a special family.



Top (L to R): Jonathan, Saika (middle), and Kingerly

Bottom (L to R): Markenson, Clara, Merdine, Gertha

 

ANGELA (FOFO) AND DASHMI



Pictured From Left to Right: Angela (Fofo), Neika, Abraham, Jordan, Dashmi (top), Jeremie (bottom), Zupine


Meet Angela (Fofo) and Dashmi. Angela worked for myLIFEspeaks for years as a nanny to many of the children in our care. She was also a teaching assistant at LIFE Academy in the Special Education classroom. Her husband Dashmi is from the neighboring village of La Salle and he serves as a lay pastor at his church. They both believe their desire to love children who have been abandoned and care for children with disabilities could only come from God.



 

TANIA



Pictured from Left to Right: Tania, Imaya (bottom), Sarah, Alex, Olivier, Darbens

(Not pictured: Tygrid, Atyms)


Tania started working for myLIFEspeaks as a nanny and classroom aide for one of our children in the Special Education class. Tania was a natural at working with kids with special needs and we noticed quickly that she was an amazing mother to her biological children. Tania became a House Parent and began caring for four of the children in myLIFEspeaks care as her own. Her mother, Lolo, whom the kids call Gran (Grandma), also helps Tania with the children. Tania's family is an incredible model of integration!




 

MARCELIN AND DONIA


Photo: LSW Photography

Pictured from Left to Right: Donia, Zara, Joanna, Elizar, Marcelin (top), Ella,

Bottom: Elie, Zion


Marcelin and Donia became a myLIFEspeaks Family in 2020 after myLIFEspeaks was entrusted with four children by IBESR (Haitian Social Services) who had been abandoned at a hospital and were ceasing to thrive. myLIFEspeaks had been praying about the addition of a 6th Family Home and the funding had recently become available through the Tim Tebow Foundation. So when we got the call from IBESR about taking in more abandoned children, it was an opportunity we were able to seriously and prayerfully discern and ultimately deemed right. We interviewed several Haitian couples to see who would be the best fit and Marcelin and Donia became clear as the right choice.


Marcelin is Assistant Director of Security at myLIFEspeaks and an integral part of our myLIFEspeaks family, operations, and our commUNITY. Marcelin and his wife, Donia, have two biological kids together and also have raised their niece, Sara, as their own since she was a baby.



Three of the four children rescued from the “Abandoned Children’s Unit” in September 2020 were placed in Marcelin and Donia’s forever family: Ella, Zara, and Zion. They are thrilled to be adding these precious children to their family!


“We always wanted many children but after our second son was born, the doctor told us it wouldn’t be possible to have any other children due to complications. We were devastated at the fact that our dreams had been shattered but we continued to pray and trust in The Lord. God had a much different and bigger plan than we could have ever imagined, God gave us 3 more children! It may not have looked the way we envisioned it but it was so much better than we ever dreamed. We see God in the eyes of all six of our children every day," Marcelin said.


 

MILANDE


Top: (L to R) Sara, Reichna, Amanda, Mirlande

Bottom: (L to R) Mika, Richard, Emmanuel (Manno)


Milande and Rigal became a myLIFEspeaks Family Home when we received an emergency placement for five children in the Spring of 2017. Rigal was working for myLIFEspeaks as a security guard and Milande was a housekeeper on the myLIFEspeaks main campus. When the children arrived dirty, sick, and hungry, the myLIFEspeaks staff, including Rigal and Milande, quickly jumped in to help feed, bathe, clothe, and love them. When we needed a home for the sibling group of three that came that day, Rigal, Milande, and their family were a perfect fit. Although the three children that entered their family do not have any physical disabilities, their traumatic pasts led to several behavioral issues and special needs that Rigal and Milande met beautifully. They are a wonderful example of the healing that happens in a loving FAMILY.


In September 2020, Nora who was released into myLIFEspeaks forever care by Haitian Social Services after being abandoned at a hospital, was added to Rigal and Milande’s family! Rigal and Milande already had three myLIFEspeaks children in their forever care and two biological children.


(Pictured from Left to Right - Richard, Milande, Reichna (top), Mika (bottom), Rigal, Nora, Emmanuel, Sara (Not pictured: Kellie)

Nora was their first child with special needs and was immediately welcomed into the family with open arms. Her siblings adored her and loved playing with her. Tragically, Nora passed away in May of 2022 from a seizure in her sleep. You can read more about Nora's LIFE and legacy, here.


In 2022, Rigal sadly left his family for life in America. Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for many Haitian families. Mirlande continues to be an incredible mother to her children and with help from myLIFEspeaks' staff, social workers, and nannies she and her children are continuing to thrive even in adverse circumstances.


In August of 2022, another child named Amanda joined this family after she was found abandoned, likely due to her special needs, at a nearby clinic in Gressier, about 10 minutes away from Neply. Amanda was released into myLIFEspeaks' forever care through Haitian Child Services and soon after placed in Mirlande's family where she has begun to thrive. Amanda came to us very malnourished and in bad health but with the love of a family, nutritional and medical care, and physical therapy, she is starting to thrive.

 

STANIA



From Left to Right: Steven, Ava Grace, Stania, Cammie, Malachi, San Marie (Gran), Eli (bottom), Brendie, Clivens (bottom), Brenton


Stania always wanted a large family but was unable to have children on her own. Today, Stania has the big family she always dreamed of with eight adopted children (seven from myLIFEspeaks, and one she adopted as an infant from Haitian Social Services on her own). The dynamic of being a single parent of eight could seem overwhelming but Stania, with consistent support from her mother, friends, and the greater community, is giving these children a loving, forever family. She has grown in her love and understanding of children with special needs and is now a passionate advocate for those who cannot speak up for themselves.



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