Marie-Claudine and Chloe: A Success Story from Haiti

In the fall of 2008, Chloe VanDenBrink, an undergraduate student at the University of Indiana, was in Haiti as a United Methodist Volunteer sponsored by HAPI, an artisans’ co-op in Mizak. While in Haiti her job was to survey communities to find children to enroll in the Medika Mamba program.

On Chloe’s first trip hiking through the mountains in Mizak, after a long day and with four malnourished children enrolled in the Mamba program, a man approached her and insisted she visit a nearby family. Chloe initally resisted, for although she understood the family was in dire need, there were no more spaces left in the program for the children in the area. The man’s persistence and unwillingness to hear no for an answer eventually made Chloe relent. Together they hiked an additional mile to Loti, the poorest area in Mizak. The home that he led her to was in a state of disrepair far beyond the usual hurricane damage in the area. As Chloe approached the house she could see a child lying on a small cloth on the front porch. As Chloe gazed down at the fly-covered, motionless, emaciated girl she had the frightening thought, “Why is this family leaving their dead child to lie on the ground like this?” Then something astonishing happened: the child began to move.

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The child’s name was Marie-Claudine; when she was found by Chloe she was 19 months old and weighed only 6.7 pounds, about the same as a newborn baby. Chloe realized that the situation was life or death and that getting Marie-Claudine started on the Medika Mamba program was her only chance of survival. When Marie-Claudine began the Mamba program there were low expectations of a recovery, and some wondered if it was too late. What could not be measured on a scale were Marie-Claudine’s courage, bravery and resolution. After just five weeks in the Mamba program Marie-Claudine had more than doubled her weight to 15.5 pounds and was an impressive 18.3 pounds by the end.

During Marie-Claudine’s treatment, she formed a strong connection with Chloe that still links the two to this day. Chloe has been back to Haiti four times since 2008 and has made sure to check in with Marie-Claudine on every visit. Last year Chloe helped build a new home for Marie-Claudine’s family, and Chloe describes her time working with Marie-Claudine as the best experience of her life.

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Marie-Claudine continues to grow and develop. Marie-Claudine’s courage serves not only to inspire Chloe but to remind us all of the resilience and fortitude of the Haitian people. Marie-Claudine is a reason we have great hope in the future of Haiti despite the seemingly unending challenges. Chloe’s dedication to Haiti proves the amazing outcomes that may be achieved when people come together for a cause. Meds and Food for Kids is proud to be a part of Marie-Claudine and Chloe’s inspiring story.