Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stephen Joseph




















I want to introduce you to a beautiful little man I met in October. This fella is on my heart and mind with a ferocity I rarely feel. His past is mostly unknown, but we hope his future will be bright.

Stephen Joseph is a small boy whom we are estimating to be around 18 - 24 months old. We have to guess at this as we don't know when he was born or to whom. Vanessa, Karen and I found this small guy at in the abandoned children's ward at the city hospital in Port au Prince. We were touring a number of hospitals that day and I asked Karen about visiting this sad place. When we arrived it was quite loud and raucous. Most of the children in this ward are older, disabled in some manner and have lived there for quite a while. Others are extremely sick and not long for this world.

This little man was the exception to that rule. We believe all children deserve loving homes where they will be loved and cared for and this ward is certainly no substitute for that. The nurses are warm and caring, but their circumstances are limited. Many of this children will live their entire, short lives in this ward, others will be moved on to government orphanages. Stephen seemed out of place to me and I asked about his condition. We were told that he had been there for almost a year and was a good baby. Noticing us hanging around his crib, Stephen quickly warmed to our attention and smiled while I played with him. He quickly had us ohing and aahing at him, tickling his toes, talking silly baby talk to him and asking the docs with us to check him out thoroughly. It was obvious that Stephen was suffering from some degree of hydrocephaly. It doesn't appear to have yet affected his development which was actually quite good considering his lack of stimulation. He tracked us as we moved around, vocalized to call us back to him and fussed loudly when we shared food with a few of the older children in nearby beds. The doctors said his examination was good and besides needing a scan so we can determine the cause of his condition, Stephen is in good health.

(Photo above is of the outside play area for children in this ward.)

We told the nurses in the ward that we would be back for him and they just shrugged, telling us many people had promised to help him in the past and no one ever kept that promise. I was determined that we would not fall into the category. God always has a way of reminding me when I make such a promise and Stephen has been firmly enscounced in my heart ever since. Thankfully, with our new program to help children with hydrocephaly, Stephen will now have an opportunity to have a future.

Vanessa returned to Haiti in December and went to work getting him moved from the abandoned ward to a wonderful house that cares for children with disabilities. Although technically Stephen does not appear to have any long-term disability at this time, we were simply looking for someone to care for him until we can get him to the US. When she left for Haiti, I pleaded with her to get him out of that hospital and promised to find the necessary funding for him. The next step is to get his scan and paperwork completed so that we can get him his medical visa. The long term goal is to find a family that wants to make this beautiful boy part of their forever family!!

Please keep Stephen Joseph and all the other children in our program in your prayers as we start the New Year.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What an ADORABLE little sweetheart. You guys are amazing!
-Brianna (and DJ too!)

Kim said...

Fran,

He is absolutely beautiful! Please email me privately (you have my email address). I want to know what I need to do to help this sweet boy.

P.S. Chad's dad voluntarily signed papers to give up his parental rights. We're on the road to adoption.

Love your blog!

Chrissy in PA said...

He is so sweet!