Kenasda Lafortune dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I would like to help people when they are sick,” she told me, as we chatted in her schoolyard in Haiti’s rural Central Plateau.
Her ambition is fueled by personal experience. At only 13 years old, this sweet-tempered girl has witnessed the horrors of long-term sickness and death too many times.
Seven years ago, Kenasda and her three sisters were orphaned when their mother passed away. With no other relatives to turn to, a family friend took in the four scared little girls. Though they were grateful for the kindness and safe shelter, Kenasda and her sisters were more mouths to feed for an already poor and struggling family. As a result, the girls suffered from malnutrition and disease. Kenasda watched as her younger sister – known by all for her beauty and bubbly personality – wasted away. Infected with HIV/AIDS, she was unable to receive the proper nutrition or medications she needed to survive.
The death of her sister greatly influenced Kenasda’s decision to pursue medicine – and by God’s grace, she is well on her way to achieving her goals. St. Pierre Parish in the Diocese of Hinche has a holistic outreach program for at-risk children like Kenasda, offering them nutritious meals, spiritual guidance and the opportunity to go to school and improve their circumstances. Even more, thanks to the support of Cross Catholic Outreach, construction on a new hospital is underway, so children like Kenasda’s sister can finally receive life-saving care.
“Maybe one day I’ll even work at the new hospital,” Kenasda said.
I pray she achieves this dream – and that God will continue to open up the doors for this compassionate and determined young lady as she strives to comfort and heal those in desperate need.