A Safe Place
Beautiful 4-year-old Dieunie-Love (pronounced “Jenny-Love”) greeted me with a shy smile as she leaned up against her makeshift home in the crowded, dusty village of Oanaminthe, Haiti. We stepped into the first of only two small dark rooms where there were just a few pieces of furniture and some electrical cords hanging from the ceiling. A dirty concrete floor was also home to a few chickens and an emaciated dog. The front door offered no security and appeared ready to fall off at any moment.
A child’s teacup set, intended as a gift to be played with, was still in its box and hung on the wall as if it was a priceless work of art. Gifts are rare in a place like this.
There is no playground in the yard of this house. Instead, it is filled with smoldering trash and stray animals.
It’s hard to really call this place a “home”—but what does home really mean? Some would call a home a residence or a birthplace. But my favorite definition is this— “safe place.” Isn’t that really what we all want in a home . . . a safe place?
I would be hard pressed to call Jenny’s home a “safe place.” Because of her living conditions and extreme poverty, she was severely malnourished by the age of two. In addition, because she had no access to childhood vaccines, she was also suffering from diphtheria—her condition was desperate. With no access to medical care and simply no resources, her family had given up.
In Haiti, the harsh reality is that 1 in 7 children do not make it to their fifth birthday due to preventable disease. And 60 percent of the population has virtually no access to improved medical care.
Staff from Danita’s Children found Jenny’s family surrounding her in their home and symbolically releasing her spirit to heaven. They had lost all hope.
The staff rushed Jenny across the Haitian border into the Dominican Republic to the nearest hospital—three hours away because there was nowhere else to go. When she arrived, the doctors said she should have never survived. She should have been dead. Her throat was completely sealed shut and white with infection.
After extensive medical care, Jenny made a full recovery and her family was overjoyed.
Two years later, her mother is anxious to share her daughter’s miraculous story of healing and how Danita’s Children saved her little girl. It was hard for me to even see a glimpse of what this little girl must have looked like and what she had gone through. All I saw was a beautiful and healthy 4-year-old.
What a powerful story. But I could not help but think, what if . . .
What if Jenny never had to get sick in the first place? What if her family had access to medical care right in their own village . . . in their own country? What if she had received the necessary childhood vaccinations to prevent disease? What if they had a “safe place” to call home? And what if all their neighbors—the entire community had access to this same kind of care?
Today, I saw the answer to the “what ifs” become a reality. Today, we made sure everyone knew that Haiti’s children are not forgotten, and there is hope.
After the devastating earthquake in 2010, World Help sprang into action and responded by sending aid and establishing networks of distribution and care on the ground. But we didn’t stop there. We wanted to make an impact that would last. We wanted to invest in a facility that could bring healing and hope for generations. We dreamed big.
Through the generosity of people who chose to care, we were able to raise the funds to complete a state-of-the-art medical center and see that dream become a reality.
Danita Estrella-Watts, founder of Danita’s Children, shared these words today as we dedicated Hope for Haiti Children’s Medical Center—the only one of its kind in all of Haiti.
When God gives a dream, it’s not just for you—it’s for everyone. It’s for others to join. When God sees a need He sends a deliverer.
This 17,000-square-foot facility is equipped to save the lives of hundreds—potentially thousands—every year. Here, babies and children on the brink of death will get the fighting chance they deserve . . . the chance to be restored to health, and the chance to hope again.
As we began to tour the new facility, a young girl named Junette told us about her brother who passed away from a preventable illness because there was no medical help for him in this area. With tears in her eyes, she thanked us for providing the medical center . . . because now, no one else in her community will have to suffer the same pain that she has endured.
This beautiful four-story building stands tall for all to see. You can see it long before you reach the gates. It is a strong presence of hope in a community and nation that has all but lost any sense of that word.
But the medical center is more than just a building. It is more than just a hospital. It is a “home” for sick and dying children. A “safe place” for parents to take their child in the night when they are desperate for help.