On my first trip to Haiti in January 2015, I returned from a field work day to see Marie with a bundled blue blanket in her arms and what I assumed to be a concerned mother next to her. When I got closer and looked inside the blanket I saw the smallest baby I had ever seen-- Dabbins. The infant was oddly pale and could barely open his eyes. He was four months old and barely alive. Severely malnourished, his mother was unable to produce breast milk (as she was malnourished as well) and could not afford formula for him. She had come to ask us for help. We immediately sent him and his mother to Dr. Tony for a full checkup, medications, and formula. We left the following day for the U.S., and we took Dabbins and his mother on as a community development case. We provided them with housing, food, and medications for the next six months until our return in May.
Upon our return, we found Dabbins had barely grown, and his skin was still extremely pale. He weighed a mere seven pounds at nine months old--it was a miracle that he was still alive. He had none of the natural reflexes expected of an infant, nor could he hold his head up on his own. We soon discovered that his mother was neglecting him and not feeding him with the money we gave her. I still remember holding him our first morning there that May--I just fell for him. Everything had gone wrong in his life, yet he was strong and wouldn’t give up. He was so pale, and was the still the size of a newborn. His mother willingly let us take care of him for the duration of our trip. We had Dr. Tony reexamine him, and he said it was unlikely he would make it more than a week. We bought him milk and baby food, split-up diaper duty, and took care of him at night. With about thirty volunteers each week, you can imagine there were plenty of volunteers to hold him throughout the day. He was so loved by the entire YSI family and the community of Pont Morel. We were all rooting for him, and he finally began to slowly gain weight. I believe he reached ten pounds by the time we left that summer.
The first summer that he was with us, I spent multiple nights rocking him to sleep and waking up with him when he cried at 3 a.m., along with a few other great advocates on the trip. By the end of our time there that May, Dabbins’ mother had left him for good, so we found him a new adoptive family. Marie Ange and Simone, Morel community members, are two very loving and kind people. Even with the very little they had, they took in Dabbins to give him a second chance. We sent support to them to aid in feeding him and managing his medical issues. I almost cried when I returned in January of 2016 to see a plump, beautiful little boy who had just begun walking. Marie Ange showed up at our compound with him. A proud mother, she was beaming and excited to show me how well he was doing. This past June when I was in Haiti, I was walking down the street in Morel and ran into Marie Ange and Dabbins who were dressed up for church. Dabbins gave me a “fist bump” and the two walked away towards the church hand in hand. I knew that what we did there mattered. Stories such as Dabbins’ happen a lot in Haiti.
because of a lack of accessibility to healthcare and basic needs, which is why we chose to focus the bulk of our resources on our free clinics and public health education. Dabbins was our little miracle and reminds us all every time that we return why we do what we do.