Hurricane Matthew Update | “A most joyful, wonderful, smile-laden visit!”

In April 2016, Haven volunteers raised money to support an Outreach Programme for children and people with disabilities living on the island of Île à Vache in Haiti.  While the Hurricane Matthew recovery house visits are underway, our Programmes Manager Ailish O’Reilly is thrilled to see the difference this programme is making.


On Tuesday morning, we meet with the Mayor to discuss the distribution of the food we have.  We take all the other kits out of the depot.  The Mayor has another contribution coming in through a Catholic organisation, and it is a larger quantity than we have.

What we try to do is stagger the aid to supplement the weekly nutritional requirements of a family.  The Mayor’s team decides to hold our kits until the other distribution in done.  If any areas don’t get enough of an allocation, he can use ours as a reserve.



There are a lot of people gathering to collect the aid from the church so we decide to leave the office for the day.  Girlande and Alienne head to Kaykok by boat to visit beneficiaries in our Chache Lavi programme.  As roads are closed due to the rain and mud, John and I hit off on foot to visit people from our Outreach Programme.

Our aid will be focused on helping the more vulnerable people of the community.  This includes people with disabilities; the elderly; and vulnerable women that have been previously identified through Chache Lavi.  We found many stories along the way: Elefet Aris, an elderly man with epilepsy and an open sore on his foot that we washed and treated; Dimo, who lives on a small grass 6×6 foot hut on the beach; Leah, a young girl with Down Syndrome who has been rejected by three schools.

But the day’s real gift to us is Mistachna Badet.

She lives most of the school year with her grandmother, and it was really Granny we were looking for when we were hailed with a shout from the garden.  Mistachna came running from her neighbour’s house, and it is a slow-motion moment for me.

I’m stunned and delighted beyond belief.  I might cry but I’m laughing too hard with joy.

Let me roll you back to two years ago, when we met Mistachna Badet, then aged 12.  She has Spina Bifida and, coupled with the issues this gives her, she also has a horrible hole in the bottom of her foot.  She is the most beautiful, shy girl with an amazing smile.  Consuelo of FONTEN could not get her fitted for a boot to correct her foot, one that would plant it flat on the ground until the sore healed.  Try as we might, we couldn’t find a solution.

In April/May 2016, the Haven volunteers gave us a wonderful gift of funding for a formal Outreach Programme.  Another friend of Haven gave some private donations that coincided with the arrival of an orthopaedic team in a hospital on the mainland.

With the money to cover the consultation and possible surgery, Mistachna and her mother headed off.  Mammy was very anxious, so there were a lot of phone calls between us all.  The first day, she did not get seen and was on her way back to Île à Vache when we got them to turn around, stay in Les Cayes, and try again the next day.  One week later, Mistachna had her surgery over.

Solana from our Outreach Programme had called to see her in September, but I had not seen Mistachna since the week before surgery.  Here she is, running across the garden, foot flat on the ground (in a pair of flipflops, which even I know she shouldn’t be wearing).  And where is our shy girl?  Talk about a chatterbox, as she talked a blue streak!

I picked up her feet to look for the sore: it’s completely closed.  We caught up on all her news; she told us all about the hospital, the surgery and the doctors, showing off her ‘new foot’.  There is talk of a urology consultation, but that is a battle for the future; for now, we will bask in the warm glow of winning one!

Mistachna is going to come up to visit my house some day, and we are going to go to Cayes together to see Consuelo to get therapy support from FONTEN.  Mistachna doesn’t want to let us go, and holds my hand as we head down to visit another family.

She is like a babbling brook with her bubbly light chat and laughter.  Her father comes out to thank us and bless us for our help.  Later that afternoon, we met her mother on the route: more big smiles, more thank yous.  None of us can stop smiling and laughing.

It is a most joyful, wonderful, smile-laden visit: a breath of fresh air and a real ray of sunshine.  Thank you to Trish, Margaret, Katy, Haven and Haven volunteers from your Haven Haiti team, FONTEN and the Badet family!

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