How One Visit to the Doctor Turned a Boy's Life Around

11/14/14

I couldn’t wait to begin my interview with 12-year-old Rivaldo. He didn’t know it, but I did a story a couple of months ago about a middle school student named Peter who sells his art to sponsor Rivaldo. I was thrilled to be able to visit Haiti, meet the child Peter is sponsoring, and find out how he is doing.

 
Rivaldo’s story begins one year ago. “One day I was very sick,” he says. “I couldn’t go to school. My mother’s cousin saw me and knew COTN had a medical team [visiting].” Rivaldo went to the clinic and waited for hours. His unwavering patience stood out to Peter’s aunt, who was on the visiting medical team. As the team examined him, they asked lots of questions and realized he and his family were struggling to survive. 
 
Thanks to his sponsors, Rivaldo doesn’t have to miss school or meals
Thanks to his sponsors, Rivaldo doesn’t have to miss school or meals when his family is unable to afford these basic necessities.
 
“Sometimes after school I couldn’t find food,” he says. Rivaldo attended school as often as he could, but his family couldn’t always afford to pay the school fees. “I missed a lot of subjects in school,” he says.
 
The medical team did what they could to treat Rivaldo, and sent him home with medicine and vitamins. After he left, the team told Marc Antoine Michel, COTN’s Haiti country director, about the boy they’d met.
 
A few days later, Rivaldo was summoned to COTN’s office. Marc Antoine had learned that Rivaldo was living with his grandmother and aunt. His father had died when he was a baby and his mother died when he was five years old. The family was struggling to meet Rivaldo’s basic needs for food and education.
 
Rivaldo was invited to join COTN’s sponsorship program and Peter, inspired by his aunt’s story, became Rivaldo’s sponsor.
 
Through the sponsorship program, Rivaldo and many other children receive food
Through the sponsorship program, Rivaldo and many other children receive food, education, medical care, and Christian guidance. Without this program, these children would struggle to survive.
 
I asked Rivaldo how he feels now that he’s in the program. He got a big smile on his face and said, “I feel happy because when I came to COTN’s program I find good food to eat.” 
 
But he quickly gets serious when I ask about school. His favorite classes are Creole (the local language) and science. He’s looking forward to the day when he can graduate and get a good job to help support his family and younger brother. Rivaldo believes a good education will change his life’s path, and he’s thankful for his sponsor who made this possible.
 
“If someone doesn’t go to school, they don't have a developed mind,” he explains. “I’m not turned away now by the principal because I have no money.”
 
Rivaldo has embraced his new life. Marc Antoine smiles and tells me how Rivaldo didn’t hesitate to ask for school supplies when his family couldn’t afford to buy them. “He came to me like a son comes to his father,” Marc Antoine says. “I feel that Rivaldo understands he doesn’t have to be worried anymore.”
 
                                  Someday, Rivaldo says, he wants to do Marc Antoine’s job and help kids too.
 
I asked Rivaldo what he wants to be when he grows up. He told me he doesn’t know how long he’ll live. My heart hurt for him in that candid moment. He’s seen too many people die young and knows life holds no guarantees. But there isn’t a trace of sadness or fear on his face. I change the subject and ask what he likes to do for fun. Rivaldo reveals that he enjoys playing guitar. “I want to play for God and worship God because He saved my life through grace,” he says.
 
I ask Rivaldo one more time what he wants to do when he grows up. This time he tells me that someday he wants to do Marc Antoine’s job and help kids too.
 
Change the life of a child like Rivaldo. Sponsor a child today!