This is Jolie. She stays at home most of the time because of her cleft palate and only comes to see us when our nurse is seeing patients and her mom insists that she comes. Because of the shame of her condition she and her sisters have never attended school. She is embarrassed to be seen or even speak because of the way her speech is compromised by her cleft palate. Four days ago I got a call from Operation Smile after they received a letter from me asking for help for Jolie. They do not have doctors that go into Haiti but Lizet took the time to pass my name on to a group in Canada called Broken Earth who might be able to help her. Jolie’s life to date has been very difficult but with the generosity of others, everything can change. Join me in praying for surgery for her. I hope she and all her siblings will be in our school very soon.
Yslene has just completed the first grade at our school in Haiti. She did not attend school the previous year because her mother was sick and one of the children had to stay home and take care of her and the household. That fell on Yslene. Last summer she and her father were waiting patiently for me up the hill from the school on a sunny afternoon. I have no idea how long they had been there waiting to see if I would approach them. I ran to Yslene and embraced her because I had missed her in school that year. Her father begged us to take Yslene back into our school, which was obviously a big OF COURSE! She returned and finished the year at #3 in her class. She understands the value of education and makes me so proud.
Guideline is somewhere around 12-14 years old. No one knows her real age because she was found wandering the streets as a toddler and has been raised by Madame (in the second picture) ever since. No birthdate. No family history….but Madame took her in, in spite of her thyroid issues that cause her protuding goiter and how her daily life is difficult because of it. For years they have sold candy and fried dough outside the school and Guideline has watched all the children go to school, knowing that without a birth certificate she cannot attend. In March, we started the process to get her a birth certificate so she can start school in September. She will enter as a kindergartener and her life will be changed forever by an education.
Angeline has a heart condition and was forced to leave halfway through the school year 2 years ago. Her parents were faithfully carrying her down the mountain to get her to school until it became too much. She returned to school and rose to the top of the class. Her health is improving and she was #2 in her first grade class. She is such an overcomer. I am proud she attends our school.
Jean Marc has a condition called epiphyseal dysplasia. Until June 2013 he had never seen a doctor and did not know why he was short in stature and in chronic pain. Because of an amazing friend of ours, Frank, who works periodically at Cure hospital in Dominican Republic, he was diagnosed and is given medication to help manage pain. He will eventually need new knees and hips but in the meantime he is a full time student and supports his education by making baskets and bracelets that we sell for him in the US. He is an amazing example of someone who overcomes the odds. He is extremely bright and in his last year of high school. He teaches me what it means to persevere.
Because of Jean Marc’s diagnosis, we were able to treat his brother, Reginald, at CURE as well. He got a life changing surgery on his knee to straighten it out and will need continual surgeries as he grows. Their condition is not curable but hip and knee replacements will lessen their chronic pain. Reginald is a happy go lucky, playful child in spite of the pain he deals with on a daily basis. We are praying that one day he will get the extensive surgeries he will need.
The days I start to wallow in self-pity, these and many more stories like them scroll through my mind. Perseverance. Overcoming obstacles. I think we could all learn from their stories. I know I have.