Posted: July 31, 2010 in Uncategorized


We met Djenie when baby Kenny was 3 days old, weighed 3 pounds  and was very sick.  Our big, white truck was doing its rounds in lower Boston, Cite Soleil and found them among several others who were wounded and sick.  Kenny needed to be treated and Djenie who was in the midst of post-partum  was frightened of us and  wanted to go home.  She didn’t know what to do with this baby and didn’t know what to make of us.  Our doctors treated Kenny, we worked with her on breast-feeding and sent them home as soon as possible since she was so despondent being with us.
Three weeks later they returned on our big white truck.  He still weighed 3 pounds and Djenie had a raging breast infection.  I was attending to Djenie while nurses took Kenny who was wrapped in a blanket.  He was near death.  Our medical team jumped into action and life saving measures were taken for this little guy.  We sped him to Miami Field hospital where he stayed for several weeks.  That first night we were sure he would die.  Djenie was sure he was fine and kept wanting to go home.  When it finally sunk in that he wasn’t fine she wailed with a wail that broke our hearts.  God hears.
Day after day we brought Djenie to the field hospital to visit.  They bonded.  Breastfeeding finally took.  Love was born – a love that is continually threatened.  The odds have always been against her being a successful mom.  Her family is violent and there are many of them living in a small shack.  The baby’s dad died.  First we heard he was dead by gunshot and then he in fact died in a fight by a crushing blow by a cement block.  Djenie wailed that gut wrenching wail again.  He too was a teenager from one of the most violent neighborhoods on earth.
Over the months Djenie and Kenny became part of our hospital and lives.  We (Beth) kept saying he could be discharged when he weighed five pounds.  Then ten.  Then fifteen.  He’s over 16 pounds and they are still with us.  He is chubby, breast fed and permanently hooked to his mom’s hip.  She runs to his every whimper.  Parenting skills have been gained.  Her teenage responses to his cries have vanished and a real mom has emerged.  The mom who wouldn’t rouse to feed him now jumps to his every cry.  She’s grown.
Djenie goes home to Cite Soleil every now and again for a few days.  Her mom and mom’s boyfriend tell her she can live at home but not with a child.  They continually advise her to give him to an orphanage.  The dad’s mother has offered to take Kenny but not Djenie.
Orphanages can be wonderful places of refuge for the abandoned child and when a mom dies.  We ran a crèche for many years.  There are times when this is the best answer.  We love adoption and gave many years to making adoptions happen.   There are also overcrowded, understaffed orphanages where children do not get the care and parenting that every child should have.  Haiti is loaded with these places.
Djenie helps us at the women’s program.  She is a comic and makes us laugh.  She is moody, fights with others patients and then comes running to me to bail her out.  I always do.  One of her jobs is to help with pregnancy tests.  We give a lady a cup, tell her to give us a urine sample and then we give her the news.  Eager to help Djenie told a woman to go pee in a cup but told her to pee in the yard instead of the bathroom.  We all laughed.  Djenie giggled.  The woman didn’t realize what was funny – this is Haiti after all.  Bathrooms aren’t always available.
Yesterday some of our patients took their babies to a local Haitian  orphanage for a government vaccination program.  I watched them take kids hand in hand down the street to do their motherly duty.  They know vaccinations in Haiti are important.  They want to be responsible.  Djenie carried Kenny and off they went.
A few hours later Djenie came to me and said that the woman at the orphanage offered to take Kenny into the orphanage seeing that she was a teenager.  Djenie said,  "no thank you".
Then the woman offered to buy Kenny saying she would give Djenie a lot of money for him.  Djenie again said, "no thank you, I have people that are helping me".   I listened and told her what a great mom she is and how correct she was not to give Kenny to this woman.  I was calm.  Inside my blood was boiling as questions raged.  Why did this woman want Kenny?  Don’t they have enough unwanted children?  Why was she singling him out and wanting to buy him?  Would she turn around and sell him for more money?
They are a team – Djenie and Kenny.  With help they have made it this far and are well connected.  He is healthy – she is growing as a person.  She is not our only teen mom at the hospital.  Seirgeline and her baby Job live with us as well.  We have discharged them over and over by they keep returning.   Seirgeline had a broken arm like a pretzel from the earthquake and could not have surgery until she delivered.  Jonna and I delivered Job.  She had her surgery, healed but never quite made it home.  Her mom doesn’t want her, baby’s dad isn’t so interested either.
As our hospital winds down we’ve got to figure out what to do with our teen moms.  They are successful but may not continue to be if we send them out on their own. Just building them houses is not the answer.  Their lives are complicated – solutions are complicated.  Obviously a teen mom program of some sort has to on the agenda.  If we don’t  they will be swallowed up by Cite Soleil and its violence, an over- crowded orphanage, or by  a grandma who does not have Djenie’s best interest in mind.   If we don’t help them – who will?

Beth McHoul



Kenny being worked on by the Heartline team



Djenie & Kenny at the Miami Field Hospital



Djenie being prayed for by Heartline folk






                                                                                                Kenny and Djenie



Djenie’s home in Cite Soleil


What does God have for us as He has brought these two moms and their children to Heartline?  What is His plan? We know that we can not send these girls and children away; and yet what should we do.  I wish that I could tell you that we have it all figured out, but we don’t.  We are praying and ask that you pray with us as we look to God for His direction in embracing and helping Djenie, Seirgeline, their children and others in the same situation.

John McHoul

  1. johnmchoul says:

    Thanks for your thoughts. We for 20 years facilitated adoptions and it for many is a wonderful options. We, now, are looking to bring these teen moms to a place where they can be good moms to their children and to subsequent children as well. It will for sure be a process and your prayers are very much appreciated.

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