Updated: Jan 30
Marie Sonie is the mother of Sonoldens, one of the children in our special education classes at LIFE Academy. Sonoldens was born with physical and cognitive delays, and in Haiti, that is a sentence for discrimination.
Marie Sonie struggled for the first several years of Sonoldens’ life. Sonoldens’ father did not want to be a part of his life so she was left to raise him by herself. She had many friends and family that didn’t want to be around them because of Sonoldens’ special needs.
She felt alone until she heard about myLIFEspeaks and our work with people with disabilities. Marie Sonie enrolled Sonoldens in LIFE Therapy where he went from very low-functioning to making great strides. Then Sonoldens was enrolled in LIFE Academy’s special education program.
At this point, Marie Sonie and Sonoldens were still living about 30 minutes away from Neply. Each day he had therapy or school they had a 30-minute motorcycle ride to Neply and a 30-minute ride back home.
This was taxing, but worth it for her because her child was getting services that she could not find where she lived. While Sonoldens was at school, Marie Sonie started staying in Neply to wait for him instead of going home and coming come back.
She started noticing a difference in the people here. She noticed a difference in how people treated her and Sonoldens. Where they lived, they didn’t have support from their neighbors or friends. She lived with family, but other than them, she felt alone and isolated. There was something special about this village and how people welcomed and honored people with special needs.
Marie Sonie talked about how in Neply, Sonoldens was somebody and she was somebody. She wasn’t embarrassed to walk around with him. She had a commUNITY that was behind her and her child.
Eventually, she made the decision to move to Neply, where there would be a better life for her and Sonoldens. After moving to Neply, Marie Sonie was able to become one of our most faithful members in Bèl Ewo, our Biblically-based parent support group.
She walks around the village with Sonoldens and people call his name and talk to them. In Neply, they are seen, safe, and loved. Sonoldens is thriving in school. His teachers and classmates love him. The village of Neply has surrounded Marie Sonie and Sonoldens.
Sonoldens and his mother have been part of Night To Shine - Haiti, in partnership with The Tim Tebow Foundation, for the past several years which has further solidified for them the love of the local community for individuals with special needs, like Sondoldens.