|Espwa’s employee to begin a new adventure
Nathalie Amyotte has been the Finance Director at Espwa in Haiti for nearly seven years. This month she is heading back to Canada and she is taking her adopted Haitian son with her.
How did you hear about Espwa and get the job?
I worked for the government for many years and got a degree in human rights and sociology. I wanted to do volunteer work. Haiti kept popping up and I knew that if I didn’t come to Haiti, somehow something would be missing. So I did what I always did. I prayed, I said “God, I know it’s Haiti. I feel it. But you’re going to have to give me some direction.” I picked up my laptop to search and Father Marc’s blog was the first that came up. I read and then called my mom and said “I know where I need to be.” I applied and came as a volunteer for six weeks in September 2009. From the first day, Espwa was in my heart. I was helping in the finance office. I went home with a heavy heart. I was home for 12 hours and Father Marc called and said, “Come back.” I didn’t hesitate. I quit my job, packed my stuff and three weeks later I was there.
Best memory while at Espwa?
There are so many. But one that sticks is when I met Hebreu and Hebreuson’s mother. She was sitting in front of the church near my house with her kids and I saw the look of severe malnutrition in the baby’s eyes. I had spent so much time in the local center for undernourished children that I got to understand a lot more about that look. When I asked if I could see her babies, she handed one of the twins to me. He was so weak. I opened his little shirt and immediately knew if we didn’t get the twins to a hospital, they would die. I asked the mom if she had gone to the hospital. Her husband had died and she had no money. So she asked a vehicle driver if he would give her a free ride to a church. She came that day to ask for a miracle. So I called Father Marc. I explained and said “I know things are tight and I know we’re full.” And he said what he always says to me when I tell him about children in need. An Espwa vehicle came to get us. We rushed to the hospital. The boys were admitted right away. The Mom had to stay with them. Her girls came to stay at Espwa for the night. When situations happen like that I call our Child Care staff, Enold and Berthony and Nancy, it can be day or night. Everyone stops what they do and we rally. Because Espwa means hope and this great bunch of people will do whatever it takes to save a child’s life.
Tell us about the process to adopt you son?
OH MY STARS! The process is long and difficult to maneuver. Our case was not ordinary because he was a case of serious neglect and although you see a lot of malnutrition here, neglect is a whole other story. Social Services placed him with me as his foster mother. Espwa did not have the facilities to take in babies at that time. After 47 days in the hospital, Social Services placed him with me as his foster home. We began the long process of gathering papers. Then the adoption law changed. Because I have temporary residency in Haiti, it was a national adoption. Lawyers were not moving quickly so I decided I would go at it solo. Because it was a new law, there were new requirements and private adoptions are no longer permitted. So this required special permissions because it started under the old system. I am cutting out many details because as I said, I have six years worth of history on this. There are visitors who we have seen regularly and each time, there were a few steps forward and a few steps back and I am eternally grateful for their moral support. I stopped counting the number of trips I made to Port au Prince. All adoption matters are centralized there. Eventually, I received permission to adopt, then went in front of the judge and he agreed! Then to the local registrar’s office and we received the final papers. The very next day we were at the embassy and Daniel was given Canadian citizenship. So this month we fly home to meet family so they can get to know Daniel in person.
What are your plans now?
My parents and family need to see Daniel and spend time with him. But the children here are in my heart. Since I do data entry, verifications of accounts and financial reports for Espwa and Free the Kids, as well budget and payroll, I will continue to work from Canada. My work can be done remotely.
Thank you, Nathalie. Espwa will miss you!