We first met Jobnaelle in Haiti when she was but an infant, a tiny nine-month-old with a life-threatening brain encephalocele. She was born with a cyst of the brain protruding through her eye sockets and the middle of her face. Without surgery, it would have continued to expand and distort her face even more, and could have become infected, sending the infection directly to her brain. Without specialized medical facilities and surgeons in Haiti, her condition could have proven lethal.
Born to hard-working and faithful parents, this sweet two-year-old’s father is a teacher and her mother is a merchant in an open market. Her parents raised four teenage boys and a three-year-old sister before Jobnaelle and her twin sister, Jobnica, were born. Before the boys, they had lost a daughter at five-months old. Their fear of losing Jobnaelle must have been overwhelming.
An act of providence led Jobnaelle to LEAP. Jobnaelle’s twin sister, Jobnica, was taken to a mobile medical unit an hour outside of Port-au-Prince to be treated for an illness. Medical personnel also saw Jobnaelle and recognized the seriousness of her condition. Knowing her only hope of a normal life was through LEAP, they advised Marie to contact Hôpital Espoir in Port-Au-Prince. Performing surgeries in Port-au-Prince twice a year, LEAP has a long-term commitment to the people of Haiti.
Although we first evaluated Jobnaelle in the spring of 2012, her family had an agonizing wait until she was a little older to endure the surgery that would heal her. Her case required surgery that was too complex to be performed in Haiti, so LEAP worked to bring her to Dallas. As with all of the children whose lives are saved through our Landmark program, it took a village to help this little girl. Chris Nungester, an American woman who is the Founder of the orphanage His Home for Children in Port-au-Prince, was invaluable in helping Jobnaelle. She helped LEAP secure temporary visas to bring Jobnaelle and Marie to the United States, and escorted the two to the airport on November 27 for their first trip outside of Haiti. As the plane lifted off the ground, Marie joyfully uttered aloud, “Only God can do this!”
Prior to their arrival, LEAP had been working to find a family to host Jobnaelle and her mother, when the heavens smiled. Looking for a loving and generous family to host and care for them while in Dallas, we had no idea what blessings were about to be heaped upon them. Our partner in Haiti, Gladys Thomas, who runs the hospital where we first encountered Jobnaelle, has a brother. Of all places, he lives right here in Dallas! Jobnaelle and Marie were not only blessed with a wonderful, generous family offering to host them, but a loving Haitian family with whom they shared culture, language, food and customs. Reynolds Thomas and his wife, Urielle, opened their hearts and home, driving Jobnaelle and her mother to the hospital and appointments, cooking familiar food, and helping them with needed post-operative care. This host family is indeed a blessing and has forever joined our LEAP family! Jobnaelle is currently doing so well, we expect her family to be united before Christmas. She should be able to lead a normal life, including school and sports!
While we were able to help Jobnaelle to have a long, healthy life, it has truly been a remarkable experience for us all, as we have been infinitely blessed by the compassion of those caregivers at Medical City Dallas Hospital and our expanding LEAP family over the last many weeks. Our hearts are full of love and gratitude.
“Where there is great love, there are always great miracles.” Mother Teresa