Kenzie – Haiti’s Voice
Orphan Candidates for Haitian Idol
I met Kenzie in 2009 on a medical mission with Team Canada Healing Hands at the Mephibosheth House Orphanage, well run by Madame Lionette Pierre, in Tabarre, near Port-au-Prince. I remember him as a very cheerful kid, curious, shy but confident and keen to chat in French. TCHH regularly visits orphanages, clinics, schools and institutions in Haiti to deliver physical medicine and rehabilitation services, including the maintenance of wheel chairs.
After his examination by Karen Mallet, a Speech-Language Pathologist from Ottawa, Mellisa Grant and Dr. Mike Bristow, Kenzie began to sing in the most beautiful voice. When the clinic was over I asked him if he would do an encore for video and he did – wow. And this charming little girl, who knew the song, was moved to proudly give her own rendition. It moved us all.
A few years later I put his video up on YouTube, playfully nominating Kenzie as Haitian Idol. It got 396 hits. A lot for a kid with hydrocephalus, seizure disorder and hyperkyphosis singing in a wheel chair, in Haiti; not a lot by popular social media standards.
There are hundreds of orphanages in Haiti and few that specialize in permanent care for abandoned orphans with special needs. Their founders, managers and caregivers are heroes for the unrecognized work they do.
There are almost a million stories to be told by persons with disabilities in Haiti. Kenzie’s tells us how beautifully able and dignified and precious they are and how they deserve respect, love and care in an impoverished environment.