By Pastor John Summers
Donald was a throw away child without a family to care and love him. He was found by Andre and brought to Place Of Hope In Haiti orphanage with 50 other children. Donald was listless and living in an isolated world because he was born deaf. Since he could not communicate with the other children, he was a alone, in a world of silence, only invaded by sudden bursts of thunder and lightning.
Everything changed in 2011, when I made my first trip to Haiti. Andre’s daughter, Sarah Forges, was the spark plug who kept needling me and begging me to try to go to Haiti to bring hearing aids that might help this one boy. I began creating Christmas Crafts to sell that fall, in order to finance my trip, and purchase supplies needed. On that trip I was able to take 50 used hearing aids donated by Dr. Timothy Dunnigan, a prominent audiologist in Naples. He also donated hearing testing equipment, supplies, and elementary training for the testing and fitting of the hearing aids. I also donated 15 hearing aids that my son Paul had previously worn.
Donald was the first boy tested. When he was fitted with Paul’s old used hearing aids and they were turned on, it was like a flash of lightning as the sound burst into the ears of Donald. Rejoicing and praise broke out in a roomful of people who witnessed this event. I had my first hugs from Donald. His caresses wouldn’t let up. He was constantly at my heels and when I sat down on the front patio to rest, Donald slumped over in my arms and rested his head on my shoulder. From that time on he became my virtual shadow, seeking my friendship and love. I always responded to him.
I began to make regular trips to Place Of Hope In Haiti. On my second trip, Donald found me, pulling at my arms and trying to get me to go with him, which I did. He pointed up into the sky above us, and there was a kite flying, his own personal creation. He made the kite from scraps he found around the campus. His kite seemed to be flying a thousand feet in the air on plastic string he had formed from a discarded piece of electrical wiring. He wanted my approval.
I immediately saw the marks of a genius in him. Without any magazines or books to instruct him, he had dreamed up this kite, and put it together without glue or tools. No one had any solution as to how he managed this creation or how he had learned to tie small threads of nylon filament together to make his string.
I immediately saw a boy with the ability to dream and imagine greater things that others just took for granted. Here was a child with great potential that is all locked inside because of a deafness that set him apart from Haitian society.
The second boy fitted with hearing aids, once worn by my son Paul, was Lincee. He is a teenager also born deaf. His father had worked for the Haitian government and was killed by a coconut that fell from a tree. This boy was born to a family living next door to Andre’s home. Andre has known this boy from birth. Lincee had studied in the university in Port Au Prince and been taught Haitian sign language, French vocabulary and writing. When I turned the hearing aids on, Lincee also broke forth laughing and grabbed me with hugs and kisses. He too, like Donald, became a devoted friend, always wanting to be near me and hug me. I always responded in kind.
Lincee became my choice to teach a class designed for one student, Donald. He started with a piece of chalk and a piece of discarded Masonite to be used as a writing board. This deaf class was held in the patio garage at the orphanage. I pledged to pay Lincee $150 monthly, money I did not have, and had no idea of where it would come from.
Soon, other deaf children were hearing about the class and showing up, hoping to be accepted. I then came up with money to lay tile in the unfinished room at the orphanage that became a dorm for new students. God was moving in a special way.
I may have been doing things the wrong way many times, but my heart was determined to make a way for the deaf to reach higher than they had ever dreamed. This humble beginning of a deaf class and my work with hearing aids would prove to be the catalyst by which Place Of Hope In Haiti would enter an entire new phase of growth.
The old patio has been replaced by a new Deaf School. A brand-new hearing and sight clinic will soon open on our campus. A prominent audiologist in Naples, Dr. Luis Valdes and a Doctor of Optometry have agreed to go and conduct training in audiology for a national staff where the deaf will be tested and fitted with hearing aids. We even have promise from national hearing aid companies to provide new hearing instruments for these who are tested.
Two deaf classes have been started in the agricultural area near LesCayes, where 16 deaf individuals are being offered beginning classes in sign language. ALL THIS STARTED WITH ONE BOY NAMED DONALD, AND A PASTOR WITH A DEAF SON HIMSELF.
Donald went through some very difficult times as he tried to fit into social and moral skills that he had no knowledge of. I literally spent untold hours with Donald in Father/son conversation. He is learning some basic facts about faith in Jesus, and is in church every service, dressed in white shirt, and suit provided by pastor John.
Today, Donald is a growing teenager and is still attached closely to me. He is now learning watch and jewelry repair via a DVD. Donors give him used watches and costume jewelry to fix and resell. Andre will tell you that Donald is one of the finest boys on campus and one of the hardest workers.
Others in the deaf class are responding and gaining abilities beyond their normal reach. One teen age girl, Wisline has come to be one of the most outstanding girls on campus and has advanced to the top student in sewing. She shows great potential of becoming a clothing designer. Other students have been transformed from belligerent and angry children, into beautiful teens. They are learning basic principles of sign language, writing, and math, and developing vocational skills. Their present advancements are visible proof of God’s merciful grace and help.
Old Watches and Other Items Needed
Anyone having any old watches or costume jewelry that need to be repaired may send them to me and I will get them to Donald. We can also use old eyeglasses for our new sight clinic effort. Perhaps your church where you attend could begin collecting eye glasses for Haiti. We also need fabric and sewing supplies for our growing vocational sewing class.
I have just sent a laptop computer and DVD’s to help Donald learn more about watch and jewelry repair. Donald has a special area where he works on these repairs. He is becoming a good judge of handling money and other skills needed to make a living on his own. He is a transformed deaf child on his road to bringing change to Haiti. Praise God! MY VISION IS HUGE FOR AN OLD MAN, BUT GOD IS BIGGER THAN MY VISION.