Three-year-old Annie* barely escaped the building that crumbled around her during the catastrophic January 12, 2010, Haiti earthquake. Her mother was not so lucky. She did not survive. Tremors continued for days. Buildings continued to fall and the death toll continued to rise. But even after the shaking stopped, Annie’s life remained on unstable ground. In a country in ruins, she was alone.
There were so many little girls like Annie who lost their parents in the enormous earthquake that she was simply herded with countless other children into the slums. She was given food when she begged hard enough. But she mostly went unnoticed.
Even though she had somehow survived an earthquake that had killed hundreds of thousands of people—it was now, as a forgotten orphan, that a series of events leading to something truly miraculous began.
A man who had known her mother tracked Annie down and brought her to Les Cayes, a seaport in southwestern Haiti, to live with a family she had never met. As he dropped her off he whispered in her ear, “Little girl, you are God’s precious handiwork. You were created to do much more.”
Life did get better for Annie, she was no longer just another nameless, faceless child of the slums, but it was not great by any means. The wife forced her to work very hard to “earn her keep,” and she lived in constant fear of the older sons in the home—boys who would bully or even beat her. Sometimes Annie would think about the man’s words of encouragement and wonder if he had gotten her confused with another little girl. Certainly she was not worth much.
For two years Annie worked at the family’s home, suffering mistreatment, thinking often about running away, but trapped by the knowledge that she could not survive on her own.
Eventually, a local pastor heard of Annie’s situation and achieved the seemingly impossible. In a country where the type of domestic servitude Annie was under is both accepted and sought after, he convinced the family to release Annie to his care. The pastor knew about an LSM Home of Hope where she could find much more than just a better place to stay. Home of Hope would provide Annie with a permanent family who would raise her as their own. She could go to school. She would have proper meals and adequate shelter. Most importantly, she would feel what it’s like to be loved again by a parent.
And that is exactly what happened. Although it was initially another scary change, when Annie became part of her Home of Hope family, she quickly realized her days of servitude, mistreatment, and loneliness were over. Now, she is not only growing without fear and thriving within the love of a Christian home, Annie is living out the promise that she is God’s precious handiwork, created to do much more.
*name changed for privacy