A long-awaited reunion finally came to pass this week as Junior Alexis and Nadine Devilme held their baby for the first time since the January 12 earthquake in Haiti.
Photo: The International Rescue Committee
After the earthquake, Alexis and Devilme searched through the rubble for days in Port-au-Prince, and finally heard from a neighbor that a baby had been rescued from their collapsed home. The baby had severe injuries, and unbeknownst to her parents, had been evacuated to the United States for medical treatment.
"I (couldn’t) sleep at night," Devilme said on March 6 to media through a translator. "This is all that I have. She's my only child."
The couple went to the Red Cross for help, which, with the help of the American Red Cross family linking office in Washington, D.C., and International Committee of the Red Cross delegation in Port-au-Prince, located baby Jenny, who was being treated in a Florida hospital.
While not one of its typical services, the Red Cross helped arrange DNA testing to help authorities verify Jenny’s relationship to the couple. While they waited for the results, the couple received frequent updates from the Red Cross on the baby’s health.
In Miami, caseworkers at the local Red Cross chapter began to support efforts to reunite the parents and baby. They connected the couple to a partner agency—the International Rescue Committee (IRC)—which arranged for Alexis and Devilme to travel to the U.S. after their lawyer secured permission from American and Haitian authorities.
The Red Cross in Miami also provided a translator—a long-time volunteer and Creole interpreter named Claudine Sada. In addition to translating between the couple, IRC and the doctors caring for their daughter, Sada also joined Alexis and Devilme at the Miami airport to help share their story with local media outlets reporting on their emotional journey.
"This is what they call in Creole a mirak—a miracle," said University of Miami doctor Arthur Fournier to media on April 5.
Thanks to the efforts of many individuals working behind the scenes, Alexis and Devilme were finally reunited on Monday with their child, an inspiring symbol of Haiti’s resilience and hope.
Baby Jenny’s parents plan to remain in the United States until she is released from the medical facility where she is being treated for a skull fracture and receiving physical therapy for her injured arm.
To learn more about how the Red Cross helps find and re-establish communication between separated families following wars and international disasters, including the Haiti earthquake, visit redcross.org/familylinks.
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies nearly half of the nation's blood; teaches lifesaving skills; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization — not a government agency — and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.