HAITI: FOOTPRINTS OF THE SON
TRANSFORMING THE LIVES OF CHILDREN WITH DISABILITY IN HAITI
The story of Heather and Papito is a true story of love in more ways than one. How God brought a couple together from two vastly different backgrounds and how their joint love for children with disability changed their lives, forever!
Alastair and Carol and Impact have been there since the beginning with Heather and Papito and the formation of Footprints Of The Son. Impact started its work in Haiti just after the earthquake and in one of the first visits to Haiti we met Heather.
Petersen a wonderful baby with cerebral palsy arrived and Heather took care of him (he is one of the children of Heather and Papito today). Papito a Haitian came to the orphanage with his son Christ-tcherry after the baby’s mother died in child birth. He was broken and confused. His baby was only 3lbs and he had no idea what was wrong. It turned out that his son had cerebral palsy.
Heather was there to receive them both. We all went to a hospital in The Dominican Republic as the baby was struggling to breath. That night in the hospital we thought he might not make it, but he did! That was the beginning of the romance between Heather and Papito (at least that is how I see it!). Later, they were married and they set out for Terrier Rouge another city in Haiti where they started Footprints of the Son!
Impact has assisted in many ways with financial help for their new kitchen, vehicle and Christmas for the children and staff. This is a wonderful mission touching the lives of children with disability as well as children who may be physically fine but emotionally and materially in need from the difficult circumstance of their life at home.
Heather Meyer-Gabaud was born and raised in Florida, USA. She graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies with areas of concentration in Education and the Arts and a minor in Health Science. Heather was very active in dance in her childhood and adulthood where she focused heavily on ballet and modern dance. She taught dance for over 7 years, and had the opportunity of teaching a dance class designed for children with disabilities!
In January of 2013, Heather moved to Terrier Rouge, Haiti to start Footprints of the Son with her husband, Dasmin and their two sons, Christ-tcherry (Dasmin’s birth son) and Peterson (Heather and Dasmin’s foster son.) In September of 2014, they welcomed their daughter, Naomi, into their family. Heather loves making an impact on their community by loving and caring for the children with disabilities and their families. She oversees and teaches at the Footprints of the Son Inclusion School, and enjoys
training Haitian teachers to educate students of varying abilities. Heather manages international relations and the child sponsorship program.
Dasmin Gabaud is a Haitian national who has lived in Haiti his entire life. He attended school in Northeast Haiti for fourteen years passing his exit exams from the last class, Philo. Dasmin started working at twelve years old (two years after his mother died) in order to continue his schooling. He worked alongside of his father who did construction. He has always had to work hard and manage his time well, and has a passion for learning. After Dasmin’s father passed away in 2005, he continued to work, go to school, and help his family.
Dasmin’s life would completely be changed after the birth of his son, Christ-tcherry, in May of 2009. Christ-tcherry’s mother passed away during child birth leaving Dasmin with a 3lb premature baby to raise alone. After spending countless days and nights in various hospitals seeking answers and spending much money, Christ-tcherry was two and a half years old before Dasmin would be told his son was severely disabled with cerebral palsy. Dasmin was a devoted father always, and this news was not going to stop him from being the best dad he could be.
In March of 2012, Dasmin (along with Christ-tcherry) moved to Northwest Haiti where he served as a supervisor at a facility for children with disabilities. After 9 months of experience in the disability community, his compassion and heart for these children and their families grew. He wanted to do more. He wanted to work directly alongside of parents (using his testimony) to share God’s love for the children with special needs in Haiti. Dasmin had a desire to be a missionary in his own country, and he wanted to advocate for Haitian families raising children with disabilities so that they wouldn’t give up. He wanted them to know there was value in their children, and to show them that the best place for these children was in their families.
In January of 2013, Dasmin moved back to Northeast Haiti to start Footprints of the Son in Terrier Rouge with his wife, Heather, and their two sons, Christ-tcherry (his birth son) and Peterson (Heather and Dasmin’s foster son.) In September of 2014, they welcomed their daughter, Naomi, into their family. Dasmin enjoys offering hope to the outreach families,
telling them the truth about their children and their disabilities, and assisting them in any way he can. Dasmin manages all Haitian relations and focuses on outreach development and building projects for the ministry.
MEDICAL CARE, THERAPY, EDUCATION AND MORE!
Living day to day in Haiti is a constant struggle for many families, and having a child with disabilities is often seen as having an additional burden. Very few individuals are educated on disabilities, and therefore the children are often neglected, abandoned, seen as a curse, and even directed to voodoo leaders for treatment. At Footprints of the Son, we believe it is imperative to come alongside of these families and help guide them and advocate for their child to be a valued and loved member of their family.
Footprints of the Son strives and advocates for family preservation through our outreach program. It is our desire for children with disabilities to remain in their families, and to receive the necessary care and assistance they need to not only survive, but thrive! Our outreach program
consists of over forty-five families raising children with disabilities in Haiti, and it is continuously growing. We are seeing these families develop in amazing ways as they embrace, love, and put value on their children with disabilities.
When a family becomes part of the Footprints of the Son outreach program, we conduct an initial survey and assessment. We work with the family to prioritize their needs and determine which services would best help both the child and family. We visit each family at their home at least twice a month, and maintain constant contact with them so they never feel lost or alone. We work within the communities the outreach families live in to foster compassion and encourage acceptance from their neighbors.