Chlune’s Life-Changing Journey from Haiti to Boston
Suzan and John Driscoll at Massachusetts Hospital School with Chlune on March 30, 2015.
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (April 2, 2015) As millions worldwide prepare for what is considered by many the holiest day of the year, this Easter Sunday will be even more special for one Boston-area family and an 8-year-old Haitian girl who captured their hearts.
Chlune Dorviler‘s life has been forever transformed by the kindness of a loving couple. John and Suzan Driscoll are preparing a special kind of hospitality for a loving little girl whom they affectionately refer to as their “little angel.”
In 2013, longtime Food For The Poor supporter John Driscoll took his first mission trip to Haiti with the charity. On his second trip to the Caribbean nation in April 2014, this time with his wife Suzan at his side, he visited the Little Children of Jesus orphanage. While there, they caught sight of a jovial little girl chatting and laughing with Food For The Poor-Haiti Missions & Travel Officer Huguette Guerre, who would later play a vital role in Chlune’s journey.
Chlune was born in Torbeck, Les Cayes, Haiti, in 2006. She has hydrocephaly, which is the buildup of excess fluid in the brain. By the time Chlune was 5, the weight of her head was approximately 25 pounds. Three years ago, after it was determined by her family they could not provide for her care, she was sent to live at the Little Children of Jesus orphanage near Port-au-Prince, which is supported by Food For The Poor.
Suzan, a retired educator, was moved by what she saw and told her husband they had to help this child with the magnetic personality to get the medical care she desperately needed.
“My wife has worked with special needs children her whole life, setting a wonderful example for our family,” said John. “God has been so good to me and my family. I feel it’s my obligation to help others to achieve a better quality of life.”
After eight months of planning, an international patient placement operation was set in motion. With the support of doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital, who had agreed to treat her, Chlune arrived in Massachusetts from Haiti, on Dec. 8, 2014 with her father, Vanel Dorviler, and Madame Guerre to serve as their interpreter.
The John and Suzan Driscoll Family Foundation, through Food For The Poor, paid for Chlune’s travel and some of the medical expenses, along with the travel and room and board of Chlune’s father. Sadly, three days after her arrival, Chlune began having seizures and was placed in a medically induced coma. That’s when doctors determined there was nothing more they could do surgically.
Chlune’s father was disappointed when he learned that no surgery would take place. However, John and Suzan were adamant that Chlune would not return to Haiti in the same condition she arrived. Providing her with a better life became their focus.
“The Little Children of Jesus orphanage is a blessing beyond words for dozens of children, many who have severe physical disabilities,” said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. “The loving staff at the orphanage is giving these children the best care possible, but life in Haiti is not easy and it is especially difficult for a child who needs constant medical care. What the Driscoll family is doing for Chlune is truly a miracle for this vibrant little girl.”
After her recovery in the hospital, a number of possibilities were explored. On Jan. 20, 2015, Chlune was admitted to the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, a beautiful campus that is home to 95 physically disabled children and teens. Chlune, unlike some children who have received minimal treatment for hydrocephaly, has good cognitive skills and is receiving one-on-one care from physicians, therapists, and educators.
Chlune’s father Vanel and Madame Guerre have since returned to Haiti, but not before witnessing the miraculous milestones in her young life. She can sit up longer, feed herself, and color in books. Chlune loves attending school and is even learning to speak English. Her father, who has the necessary visa to come and visit her from Haiti, is overwhelmed by the support of the Massachusetts Hospital School and the generosity of the Driscolls, who have fallen in love with his daughter.
“This has been a team effort with so many people working together to help this little girl. We can’t thank them enough,” said John Driscoll. “I have been a supporter of many causes my entire life, but to be available to help someone on a personal level is so much more gratifying than giving money.”
On Saturday, the Driscolls will make the 40-mile drive to Massachusetts Hospital School and surprise Chlune with an overnight stay at their North Reading home, where a lovely dress and shoes await her. Dr. Gerald Paul and his wife Gertrude, who befriended the Driscolls during Chlune’s stay at Boston Children’s Hospital, also are invited.
On Sunday morning, Chlule will attend her first Easter Service in America with the Driscolls and their five grandsons, along with the Paul family, an event no one could have ever imagined one year ago.
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.