Your partnership with MAF helps a remote Haitian orphanage thrive
Not long after Danita Estrella-Watts responded to God’s call to open an orphanage in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, she discovered that the closest medical care required more than a car—she needed a plane.
Danita’s path first intersected with MAF in 2001 as she began to commute between Haiti’s capital city of Port-au-Prince and Ouanaminthe to obtain permits and do other legal work needed to establish her organization, Danita’s Children. Then came her need for help with transporting the children to get proper medical treatment.
“Some seasons we have had one medical emergency after another,” Danita says. “Since good medical care is practically non-existent in our area, the only option we had was to utilize MAF to fly the children to Port-au-Prince.”
Throughout the years, as Danita’s Children welcomed more little ones into the orphanage, many of whom were sick or disabled. MAF transported them to their new home, even brought some of them out again when they were adopted. Following the 2010 earthquake, the orphanage’s relationship with MAF kicked into high-gear. An additional 77 people came to the facility for shelter and recuperation from injuries. Special needs children, amputees, and those with serious injuries were flown by MAF; the rest came by bus.
“Whenever we have an emergency, we rely on MAF,” says Danita.
She recalls flights for several infant burn victims and other children who needed life-saving surgeries in Port-au-Prince, or to reach a connecting flight for treatment in the U.S. One such flight happened in 2006 for a six-month-old boy, Lubenson, with a life-threatening tumor the size of a baseball in his mouth. Lubenson’s parents abandoned him thinking the tumor was the result of a voodoo curse. It was growing daily, and time was of the essence. MAF was called and arrived within 24 hours to take Lubenson to Port-au-Prince. A week later, after obtaining a medical visa, the boy traveled to Miami, where a world-renowned surgeon and his team donated their time to save the boy’s life.
MAF pilot Will White, who transported Lubenson for the surgery, crossed paths with the boy during a recent flight to the orphanage. Although six years had passed, Will recognized him immediately. He was encouraged to learn how God is using Lubenson, who often prays with kids at the orphanage who have special needs and shares his story of how God provided for him.
Danita adds that they recently celebrated Lubenson’s 7th birthday. “He is a happy, beautiful child with a great call of God on his life!”
As she looks back on all of the children in her care, Danita says that each one is a miracle. “When we first received our children, many were in diapers, and now we are starting to talk about the future. Several of them are preparing to go to college in the next two or three years.”
The staff at Danita’s Children make it a priority to not only clothe, feed and educate the children, but to teach them about Jesus Christ. “Our children will be able to look back at their childhood and see how the hand of God moved in their lives. For many of the children, if MAF was not available and willing to help in these emergency situations, their destiny would have turned out differently.”
What began as one woman and 14 orphans more than a decade ago today encompasses 80 staff members, over 100 orphans, a feeding program of 18,000 meals a month, and schooling for 350 children. A dental clinic was completed in 2010, and now a medical center is under construction, where visiting medical teams can work and provide quality healthcare in an area that otherwise has none. The ministry also includes a church to nourish the souls in the community; about 500 people attend.
“It does not take much to make a difference in the life of a child. You just have to be willing. I am grateful to MAF for being willing to be a vessel that has been used to save the lives of so many children.”
Story ran in the Spring 2013 issue of FlightWatch.