Updated: Oct 5, 2020
In July 2020, myLIFEspeaks was contacted by IBESR (Haitian Child Services) 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 hospital in Port-Au-Prince. However, they were upfront with us with how they were mainly concerned about the little girls’ placement as they didn’t think the little boy would live.
Sadly, we get these kinds of calls from IBESR often as abandoned children in 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, yet disturbingly relatable way.
"Like counties in the United States have an animal shelter, every hospital in Haiti has an abandoned children's unit," Mike said.
We have been praying about the addition of a sixth Family Home as we continue to expand our family-based approach to orphan care in Haiti. The funding for a sixth family home recently became available thanks to the Tim Tebow Foundation. This time when IBESR called, it was a possibility for us to responsibly discern taking in these children and placing them within a family for LIFE.
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 the girls was that they were between 1.5 and 2 years old, had special needs, and were in the “Abandoned Children’s Unit” for two months after being left outside the hospital gate.
Our staff arrived safely at 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 itself where the children stay in cribs and have volunteers who come and look after them during the day. These caregivers are not nurses, just 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 realized Ella has cerebral palsy, spasticity and some developmental delays but is full of potential. We believe 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 malnourished and ceasing to thrive. We realized that this was the little boy IBESR had initially told us about who wasn’t expected to live. His name was Zion and we believe he was around 10 months old. He was brought to the hospital by his mother to be treated for congenital syphilis over a month ago, when she abandoned him. He reminded us of Nash and Jonathan, two of the children in myLIFEspeaks’ care, when we found them similarly 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 all the necessary paperwork for IBESR and made preparations to ensure we were ready once the Haitian government cleared them for release. On September 25th we went 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 are joining our new 6th Family Home with parents Marcelin and Donia Joseph. Marcelin is currently the Head of Security at myLIFEspeaks and he and his wife, Donia, have 2 biological kids already. They are thrilled to be adding Ella, Zara, and Zion to their family!
Nora will be joining one of our current Family Home's of parents Rigal and Mirlande, who already have three myLIFEspeaks children in their forever care and two biological children. Nora will be their first child with special needs.
When we brought Ella, Zara, Zion, and Nora home they were welcomed by an entire comUNITY excited to meet them. Dozens of members of our village commUNITY came to help bathe, feed, and care for our newest additions. These children went from being discarded to being treated like kings and queens; a welcome beautifully foreshadowing the kind we believe Jesus will have awaiting in heaven someday.
This is such an exciting time and we cannot wait to see all that God has in store for these four beautiful children and their new forever families!