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Haiti to Home: photos courtesy of the budd family


bonnie j. toomey


the Budd’s yard there is a red ribbon of hope tied into a bow around the trunk of a tall pine growing beside their driveway. A basketball hoop stands nearby in front of their three bedroom house. It’s the hub where the Budd teens do their homework, have meals with their parents and on Sundays pile into the family car to go to church. It’s a place where Christmas lights twinkle in December and sprinklers dance on the lawn in July. Now imagine a place where mothers turn to feeding their children mud pies made from salt, shortening and dirt to fend off hunger, a place where crime is a part of everyday life and clean water and electricity are not. Just 700 miles from Miami is the Caribbean city of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. This is the place where 12-year-old Roselande lives. With infant mortality statistics of one in ten, a 60% illiteracy rate and a ravaged environment from weather and poor infrastructure, many children struggle to survive in Haiti. Extended families live in makeshift houses of tarps, blankets and corrugated metal where there is barely room enough for one bed. Clean water is a luxury, costing more than six dollars a bucket, and the average daily income is only two dollars. Some Haitians have even risked injury trying to catch sloshing water in unsanitary pails when the water truck pulls away. They call it tent city. “There are thousands upon thousands of tents,” says Sue Budd, referring to the crude dwellings she saw during her first trip to Haiti in November 2010 with her daughter, Clarissa, under the umbrella of Grace Community Church. Nothing here in the states prepared her for the living conditions she witnessed the day they stepped foot onto Haitian soil. Shockingly, this was part of everyday life for Roselande until she was 6. Her mother left in 2004, and out of desperation, her father found his way to Wayom Timoun Orphanage in Port-au-Prince, also known 12 FEBRUARY2011

as Kids Kingdom. He prayed that Pastor Antoine Jean Rigaud would be able to give his daughter shelter and food. Roseland was one of the lucky ones. Many children from the poorest neighborhood like La Saline, are living along streets running with raw sewerage amidst dangers of infectious diseases such as typhoid, cholera and HIV. Roselande came to live at the orphanage with Pastor Rigaud and over 30 children who were in his care. A year later and over two thousand miles away along a quiet wooded street in the small suburban town of Acton, Massachusetts, the Budd family go ready to go to church one January Sunday. They listened from their church pew as president of Servants for Haiti, Laurae Richards, asked members of the congregation to consider becoming foster families for children from Kids Kingdom in Haiti. There were over 20 children at the orphanage who were in need of basic food, school and medical assistance. After the service, the Budds were compelled to help. Drawn to a table with photos of orphaned and abandoned children, Clarissa gently lifted up a snapshot of a smiling little girl in a red dress. Clarissa had always hoped to have a little sister. When the Budds held the picture of young Roselande in their hands, they agreed they would become her sponsor family. The tiny seeds of a new relationship across countries and cultures started to take root. After Fred and Sue signed the sponsorship forms, Roselande’s photo was carefully carried home and placed on the desk in the Budd’s living room, where a donation payment book and a simple Haitian-Creole to English translation book were placed in the same desk drawer for easy access. While children in the United States are wondering what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows or planning ahead for birthday parties and school field trips, Roselande would look forward to any

messages or packages mailed from the Budd family. The Budds began sending Roselande clothes, toys and snacks. As time went on they learned their sponsor child was bright and very helpful at the orphanage, loved to sing and dance and that her all-time favorite color was red. Roselande soon learned her letters and in her own handwriting wrote one of her first notes to the Budds which they kept and treasured with each letter, photo and drawing to follow. “Thank you for all you do,” she wrote in Haitian-Creole in blue pen, drawing a simple picture of a person in a house with giant holiday candles lit. Because of the Budd’s 25 dollar monthly donation, Roselande walks to school in a pale orange uniform through the close quarters of the city taking one step closer to a formal education. She says her prayers every night with the children in the orphanage, sleeping with pictures of the Budds safely under her pillow. Clarissa had subtly been asking her parents if they would ever consider adopting, but it was not something the Budds were ready for. They had three children; the economy wasn’t the greatest and Sue was a stay-athome mom. “Adoption was the furthest thing from my mind at the time,” says Sue. But all that changed when the earthquake shook the country with a devastating 7.0 magnitude of destruction Jan 12, 2010, leaving the Budd family reeling in the dark days ahead to find new hope for their foster daughter. Follow the Budd’s journey each month in baystateparent! Freelance writer Bonnie J. Toomey is the mom of four interesting children and grandmother to two more. She lives with her child-groom of 30 years, and their dog, Molly, in North Central Massachusetts. For more information, visit Bonnie’s blog at

February 2011 Baystate Parent Magazine  

February 2010 edition of Baystate Parent Magazine

February 2011 Baystate Parent Magazine  

February 2010 edition of Baystate Parent Magazine