There is no official record of ChristNelson’s birth. His mother does not remember the exact date that she gave birth to him on the dirt floor of her mud hut without any medical assistance. ChristNelson was born with a disability and, for many years, he did not talk. He could not walk. He was never dressed in real clothes. According to the people in his village, which is perched on a mountain above Williamson in Haiti, he is “cocobai” – not human.
“There is no hope for this kind of demon possession,” the witch doctor told ChristNelson’s mother. And so she did not hope. ChristNelson’s life became truly ‘cocobai’, less than human.
Every day, ChristNelson’s mother Marguerite hikes several miles, barefoot, to another village to buy cabbage and eggplants. She then hikes down the mountain to a market to sell them. Each night, she hikes back home with the day’s earnings. In a good month, she earns the equivalent of 11 US dollars. Some months, she earns less than 10. The tiny garden she tends to help feed her children has not been doing well. She is worried and very thin.
Every day, Marguerite used to place ChristNelson, naked and alone, under a tree to await her return. There, he caught the attention of Susie Krabacher, founder of Haiti Children and 2013 World of Children Alumni Honoree.
Last year, when a team of medical experts from the US visited her organization’s HaitiChildren Village, she convinced one of them, Julie Taylor, to hike up the mountain with her to see ChristNelson. To see the small cocobai child who sat under a tree waiting for his mother every day.
When she saw ChristNelson, Julie took him in her arms and began examining his limbs. Susie asked what she’d been aching to know, “Can we help him?” Julie looked up and said “Susie, I think we can.”
Susie talked to his mother and she – for the first time – also had hope. ChristNelson was moved to HaitiChildren’s Rehabilitation and Therapy Center. He was dressed, fed, and cared for. He was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and began intensive treatment. As importantly, he was surrounded by hope.
Just two days later, ChristNelson took his first steps.
Now, over a year later, ChristNelson is 9 years old. He works with therapists at the Rehabilitation Center twice a week and is learning to walk with a special walker. He has grown into an incredibly sweet boy with a big, bright smile that lights up a room.
Without hope, there was nothing. Just a lonely child, trapped in his own body and robbed of his humanity. With hope, there is a future. There is freedom. Because of hope, ChristNelson is cocobai no more.
About HaitiChildren Village
HaitiChildren Village at Williamson is a 17-acre tract of land owned by HaitiChildren and located approximately 30 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince. The campus includes three residential care buildings (housing 130 orphans), two school buildings, Therapy & Rehabilitation Center, Sammy’s Medical Clinic, a chapel building with office space and a kitchen/cafeteria, 3 greenhouses, a generator building, a guard tower, security gate with perimeter security walls, and two water wells. We have a 10,000-gallon per day water filtration system that is open to the community daily and provides clean water for 150 families.
Every single day, World of Children Honorees around the globe are giving hope to children. Their work depends on access to much-needed funds – more funding means more hope for more children. Support their work with a gift to World of Children this year-end.