Jeancilia and Héribert were left alone in the hospital to worry. They were already struggling to raise their children with very little income. How could their precious baby boys survive such poverty?

With nine children, Jeancilia and Héribert fought to look after their family but the consequences of poverty overwhelmed them. Each month, Héribert earned only $60 shovelling pebbles from the beach and a couple of buckets of sweet potato from helping local farmers. Sometimes it just wasn’t enough.

They suffered the anguish of losing a child to disease because they didn’t have the money to pay for medical treatment.

Despite her grief, Jeancilia needed to persevere for the sake of her family. However, she suffered even more when she contracted yellow fever. Doctors told her she had to stop all medication, including her contraceptives.

When she found out she was pregnant, she was afraid for her family and wondered how they would endure. Héribert tried to encourage her. “We will survive somehow for one more child. Don’t be discouraged,” he said.

But the couple were staggered by an unexpected change in their plans.

During her pregnancy, Jeancilia had saved the $15 she needed for an ultrasound. She wanted to make sure her baby was healthy and the pregnancy was going according to plan. Her plans were upset when one of her other children needed the money. Jeancilia abandoned the idea of having the procedure and resolved to wait till the birth to find out.

It wasn’t until after Judson was born that Jeancilia realised it was a multiple birth. Imagine her shock when Stervenson, Davidson and Williamson were born soon after. All four babies were in a critical condition and were taken from their parents for treatment.

Jeancilia and Héribert were alone in the hospital; they were worried about their babies and also wondering how they could support four more children. Then they met Louisena Dupré, the coordinator of the Beraca Child Survival Program. Before Jeancilia and the babies left the hospital, they were admitted to Compassion’s Child Survival Program and received a big basket of food and baby care items.

Over the following months, the family were sent healthy meals, more child care items and all their hospital expenses were paid. When the quadruplets returned to hospital three times after contracting viral infections and waterborne diseases, Jeancilia and Héribert knew they didn’t need to worry about paying the bills. Compassion was there for them.

As a mum to a large family already, Jeancilia thought she had the experience and knowledge to be an excellent mother. However, at the Child Survival Program, she found there was a lot more to learn about providing critical care for her babies during their earliest years. Through the Compassion training, she was much better equipped to raise her young children and see them thrive.

Learning about child survival

Although Jeancilia was attending a Christian church, Héribert was still going to the voodoo temple—Voodoo is a religion commonly practised in Haiti. When Héribert saw how Compassion cared for his family, he decided to give his life to Jesus instead. Those around him soon noticed how he became wiser. Héribert was challenged by the words of James 3:11, “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” His life changed dramatically; he gave up drinking and smoking, and stopped going to rooster fights.

Héribert soon realised that he should marry the mother of his 13 children. The staff of the Child Survival Program were delighted to hear this wonderful news and they wanted to help. They donated their money and time to give Jeancilia and Héribert a memorable wedding day. On 26 March 2016, Jeancilia and Héribert were married at the Beraca Evangelical Baptist Church.

Being given emergency assistance was a big help to the family after their four boys were born but without a consistent, sustainable income, poverty would continue to be a burden to them. With Compassion’s assistance, Héribert was able to set up his own business and started to earn a substantial income. Now he can even save money for his children’s education.

The future is looking much better for Judson, Stervenson, Davidson and Williamson. They are growing up surrounded by people who love them and love Jesus Christ.

Jeancilia, Heribert with their children and grandchildren

The first few years of a child’s life are critical for survival. Through generous supporters, Compassion works with mums and babies through Child Survival Programs to prevent premature death, secure good health and enable positive development for babies and their caregivers.

Donate to the Mums and Babies Critical Need to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name: children just like Judson, Stervenson, Davidson and Williamson.

Words by Nicolas Jean Elie and Vivienne Hughes

Photos by Nicolas Jean Elie