One of the stories dearest to my heart is the story of the Delva family. I met Zachary on my very first visit to Haiti. He spoke a little English, lived close to St. Paul’s and was always on campus. I remember Zachary as a kind, soft-spoken man who was incredibly patient teaching me Creole. I also knew Avelia, Zachary’s mom, from my earliest visits. She was a stalwart and independent member of St. Paul’s Parish with such a kind heart. She would meet you at church and give you the biggest, most beautiful hug. I remember each year during the St. Paul’s Day festivities, there would be a procession down the aisle for Offertory. Avelia would come up alongside the procession all on her own to offer her gift.
It was about three years ago, now, that Zachary died. His wife, who suffered from severe mental illness, is no longer in the community. That left Avelia to take over raising Zachary’s boys. She didn’t have any money and had little chance to earn any income, but nonetheless was a great provider and nurturer for the boys. She helped get them into St. Paul’s and kept them engaged in school.
Sadly, last August, Avelia also passed away. I think she knew the end was near because she went the week prior and made sure that the boys were registered and ready for school. After she died, there was no home for the boys. Father Abiade, the priest in charge at St. Paul’s, saw to it that the boys came to live at St. Paul’s. It was the only home left for Kinsley and Gitmey, and they had always been a part of this community and the St. Paul’s family. Of course, these life-altering losses and dramatic changes have proven difficult, as they would for anyone. Their first Fall living on campus, they cried all through the night. Slowly but surely, time has helped to heal their broken and delicate hearts. Living on campus has exposed them to opportunities they would not have otherwise had. English, entrepreneurship, agriculture and music classes as well as access to computers have helped to refocus and expand their young minds to dream of all that the future holds.
These two boys are an incredible delight and never far from my mind. Kinsley is shy with eyes that look at you, full of laughing mischief. He loves all things soccer and when left to his own devices, is always drumming on something. He is an excellent student, and as a 12 year old, has already advanced to the 7th grade. While his older brother is off playing soccer, you’ll likely find Gitmey on a computer. He is fascinated by computers and loves to play games and watch videos. Unlike the laughing mischief of Kinsley, Gitmey is much more serious…until you getting him swimming. Then, you will see in his face pure joy.
My hope is that the boys are nurtured within their community and grow to be leaders of the next generation. Their life at St. Paul’s is rich with educational opportunities and, with the support of the Colorado Haiti Project, they have the tools they need to succeed. I am honored to know their story, grateful to be a part of their lives and excited to watch their futures unfold!