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Haitian orphan appeal: how 3 orphans of 250 got here

With Francoise Mathilde sometimes smiles already

We thought we would tell you how three of the little children currently in our village came to be there. Sadly with concerns about child trafficking and child protection we have decided to change the children's names in this account (because otherwise someone might come to the village and try to claim them). But the photos are accurate as are the other details (including the SOS mother's name).

A few days after the great earthquake, SOS mother Francoise left the children in her SOS family with another and set off back to Carrefour Feuilles, a suburb of Port-au-Prince situated some 30 kilometres from Santo, to check on her grown-up son. He was mercifully uninjured, but his house had been destroyed.

On the way home to the SOS Children's Village in Santo, Francoise noticed three little children crouching between several heaps of rubble right next to the street. There was a girl lying on the ground crying, two little boys sat next to her. I am an SOS mother through and through; and have been for more than ten years. I knew right away that these children needed help, just as I knew that I was the person to help them. Instinctively they felt like they should become part of the SOS family, she says with tears in her eyes.

Neighbours told her what had happened to the three children. The siblings Mathilde, age three, and her brother Tom, age seven, had lost their father, their mother and their brother in the quake. They spent the whole first night after the quake sitting next to their dead family. The five-year old Paul, a boy from the neighbourhood and friend to Mathilde and Tom, had also lost his parents and found them.

"It was heartbreaking", says Francoise, "they were hungry and crying… I had to go back to care for my SOS family but I could not keep on walking". She made up her mind right there and then - she picked up the girl in her arms and started walking, the boys just followed. They had to walk for quite a while before they could catch a bus that brought them to Santo. The little girl Mathilde is often overwhelmed by her pain, her brother can talk a bit more about the terrifying seconds of the quake. "Everything was shaking, and there was a terrible noise. We were scared and just ran and ran and ran". Neither will say a word about the time right after the earthquake.

Francoise is glad to have taken the children with her: "They're safe here and have all they need. They can sleep and have a healthy appetite. The rest of us here at family house thirteen… well, we just huddle up to make room".

In due course the job of tracing other family of the little ones will progress and perhaps they might even end up with Francois forever, but in the meantime they will not lack for love and care.