Below is a testimonial from Rachel Prusynski, great Friend and Godparent, who shares her personal and touching story about her own experience in the Haiti earthquake and meeting her godchild, Kervenson.
On January 12, 2010, I was trapped under the rubble of the six-story Father Wasson Center in Pètionville, Haiti. I was rescued from the building with just a broken arm and multiple lacerations. My friend Molly Hightower, who was volunteering for a year with special needs children for NPH Haiti, was not so lucky. Needless to say, my two-week vacation to visit my best friend from college and meet the children she loved ended quite tragically and unexpectedly, and I have spent the last three years since the earthquake trying to honor Molly’s memory through fundraising efforts and return trips to Haiti. I have also fallen in love – deeply and desperately – with the country that lost so much on January 12, 2010. I’ve also fallen for an adorable orphan named Kervenson.
Kervenson lost his family on January 12, 2010 at the age of ten. He literally had no one, and was being abused in a tent city when NPH workers found him and brought him to the Angels of Light earthquake relief program. Once it was fully determined that Kervenson had no family left, he was transitioned to the permanent orphanage in Kenscoff, Haiti, where he lives in a gray house with pink trim, a dozen or so boys his same age, and a caregiver who is quick to smile and assure me that Kervenson is a well-behaved young man.
Kervenson and I first met in January 2011, when I returned to Haiti for the one-year anniversary of the earthquake to participate in celebrations and memorials. After the earthquake, through my own process of grief and recovery, I decided I wanted to sponsor a child who had somehow been traumatically affected by the earthquake. Kervenson certainly fit that description, and I detected remnants of his suffering in the shy, gangly child who was far too small to be ten years old. Despite spending multiple days together walking through the grounds and sharing the joys of a cold soda, Kervenson rarely spoke unless it was in hushed whispers, except to ask me when I would return.
I write this story during my fourth trip to Haiti after having visited Kervenson for a third time. The confident, tall, and polite twelve- year-old I just spent time with is almost unrecognizable from the sad child I met two years ago. Kervenson is learning English and jumped at the chance to practice greeting me in my language. He told me about his trip this last fall to Italy, where he visited Rome, met Andrea Bocelli, and walked onto the soccer field at FC Milan. He said thank you about fifteen times while opening his Christmas present and asked me to send him pictures and a book in English so he can continue to practice. This time, I couldn’t get him to stop talking. He showed me a watch from his godmother in Italy that he met during his trip, although he diplomatically assured me that I’m still his favorite godparent. And of course, he immediately asked me when I would return.
I can’t tell you that my sponsorship experience is selfless. My physical recovery from the earthquake was swift, but the emotional trauma of being trapped in rubble and losing my best friend was more difficult to shake. Having Kervenson in my life means that I have a family member who knows exactly what the earthquake felt like. It also means that Kervenson has someone all to himself – whom he doesn’t have to share with his 400 brothers and sisters in Kenscoff – that also understands the event that changed his life forever. I hope and dream for Kervenson that his experience in the earthquake is easier for him to shake. I want him to grow up knowing that he can be whoever he wants to be, and I want him to have the necessary support and encouragement to fulfill his potential. Especially after this last visit, the transformation that the Friends and NPH family has allowed Kervenson to undertake is amazing, astounding, and fulfills every hope and dream I have for him. I am blessed to be a small part in this transformation and I cannot wait to continue to support and love him as he realizes his own hopes and dreams.