It was quiet, it was slow, and it was gentle. The eyes met, the smiles connected and the black younger hand slipped into the white older hand and God blended two souls. It was awkward love – divided by language, divided by cultural shaping’s, separated by two different countries – but a seal of love ignited by a spirit that drew us together. It was awkward silence – God had drawn us together – the divine purpose was yet to be revealed.
I left the Children’s Home that first time knowing that I wanted to support Marc-Dally Joseph and as the bus pulled out of the gated community – I wondered if I would see him again. I am sure as he connected with this white pastor from the States – and like many before who came, saw and left – would he ever see me again.
That was my first trip to Haiti and my first “eye and heart” experience at the Children’s Home in Gonaives, January 2012. As I write this I have just returned from my fourth trip. It took the fourth trip for me to “hear” Marc-Dally’s story.
It was the evening following the children’s talent show and Marc-Dally took my hand for us to walk the dark, rocky, dirt road back to the Boy’s Home. Stan agreed to interpret for me to lean more about Marc-Dally. The three of us sat at the picnic table in the courtyard of the home under the mango and coconut trees.
Marc-Dally is the fourth of nine children born December 24, 2000, to his mother. His oldest brother left for Brazil and now lives in the United States. The second born child continues to struggle with health issues. The third born is in the ninth grade in Gonaives.
Marc-Dally was eight years old when his father died. His mother struggled to care for the nine children as a widowed parent. He remembers his mother taking him and one of his sisters to his aunt’s house to stay for a while. The aunt discovered that she could not continue the care giving for the two children. He remembers the day his mother brought he and his sister to the Children’s Home.
He entered the home when he was ten years old, May 2011. At the time his spirit was not in a good place. He was sad, shy and did not understand why he had to be at the Children’s Home. During those struggling day, it was friends in the home that reached out and made him feel welcomed. Over time, the Children’s Home has become a secure and very special place for Marc-Dally.
When he was to take his sixth grade exam that would allow him to advance to the next grade, the school could not find Marc-Dally’s birth certificate. It was discovered then that his mother had given him a different last name when she brought two of her children to the home. She did not think the Children’s Home would receive two children from the same family. This happens often in Haiti when parents do not feel they can care for their children.
He has a deep relationship with God. Marc-Dally says he prays that God will continue to help him intellectually. His goal in life is to be a medical doctor. He studies hard and makes good grades but he wonders if he has set his goal too high. I have shared with him in each visit that many things are possible with a faith and belief in God. He truly wants to give back to those who have helped to provide food, shelter and school for him to grow. He states that he wants to become what God wants him to be.
Marc-Dally says it is rare and hard for him to visit with his mother even though she lives close to the home. As we were closing our time together, I asked Marc-Dally what he feared most and he said: “Every day when I sit down to eat, I wonder if my mother has any food – I fear that she is hungry.”
In that moment I knew why God put the hand of this eleven year old Haitian boy into the hand of this pastor in a village church in Raleigh. My father died at an early age and my greatest fear was my mom’s survival – her well being. Never did a day go by did I rest if I knew she was in need. The Holy Spirit ran from the top of my head to the tips of my toes as those words came out of Marc-Dally’s mouth.
Marc-Dally’s mom had to set him free to become what God could grow him to be – my mother’s daily prayer was for God’s word to live through me. A son’s hand is always tethered to a mother’s heart. Hearts and Hands for Haiti is the face of God for me.
Ties that Bind - Rick