Five years ago, in the frantic and confusing days following the Haiti earthquake, my colleague Zeina Khodr stopped by a makeshift orphanage and met a boy named Sonson Yvenord.
Sonson’s mother and father were killed when their home collapsed in the earthquake. His older sister was missing.
Sonson survived, but was left with just the clothes on this back, and some shredded plastic sandles about 4 sizes too big. When Khodr met him in the orphanage he was understandably in shock, terrified, and constantly wiping away tears.
Five years later we found Sonson again.
He is 13 years old now and still lives in the same orphanage, but everything else in his life has changed. He has gained weight, and looks healthy. Any scars from falling rubble have long healed. He studies every day in a small classroom in the orphanage and he can now read and write and will graduate from middle school next year.
He wants to be a mechanic when he grows up.
“I go to school, I go to church, I can sleep well, and play with my friends,” he told me. “That is what makes me happy.”
And he has got something else back: His smile.
Things are far from perfect at the orphanage.
Reverand Jeannis Mario, who runs it, says money is tight, and they are about $2,000 short each month of the funds they need to operate as he would like.
Corners have to be cut. Sonson and the other 22 kids at the orphanage get two meals a day rather than three.
But Mario says he is grateful for a little money they get from a Brazilian church that keeps the kids they have housed, fed as best they can, and in school learning.
Any extra money each month he puts to building an extra classroom , which is being built little by little.
Last year he had to turn away 18 mothers who said asked him to take their children.
“It’s bittersweet,” he told me. “I’m sad because I cannot help the number of children brought to me, but I am happy because I can at least help someone like Sonson.”
After interviewing Sonson, he was anxious to unclip the microphone from his shirt and get back to class and his friends.
Haiti is a country where telling stories of problems is easy, because the problems are everywhere.
But look hard enough and sometimes there is Haitian hope amid all the pain.