It has been bittersweet news that the time has come to say goodbye to our eldest boy, Francisco.
Francisco has recently graduated from the D2C Family Home and has returned back to his village to live with his birth family. Francisco turned 19 years old this summer and it is D2Cʼs commitment is to offer guardianship and care for our children until the age of 18. We made a special exception to extend this commitment with Fransisco as we did not feel his maturity would warrant his successful independence. Over a year and a half ago we set up an internship with a local mechanic as Francisco showed interest in this field of work. Our hope is to continue supporting this work relationship until he is ready to work on his own and support himself financially.
Francisco originally came to us at the age of 14 as a temporary placement through IBERS (Haitian Social Services). After a few months it became obvious that temporary meant permanent as IBERS failed to take him back or provide us with any history or information on him. We had heard unconfirmed stories that he had been picked up on the streets of Jacmel and that he had been living as a restavek (child slave) until he ran away or got kicked out of that situation. His family was unable to be found and he became the result of an incompetent and corrupt system. At the time we decided to take matters into our own hands and went searching for Franciscoʼs family, collecting bits of information that he remembered about his village.
Together with our previous director and American volunteer, they were able to locate Franciscoʼs family home far away in a very distant mountain village (it took 3-4 hours to get there). Upon arrival they found his grandparents who were thrilled to learn Fransisco was alive and well and that he was attending school (he had never been to school). His parents were not around and had traveled to the capital. At the request of his grandparents they returned back to the D2C Family Home with Fransisco after learning about the physical abuse caused to him by his mother. It was unclear to us if this abuse had caused some of his developmental issues or if these issues were the reason for the abuse.
So you must be asking, why would we return him to his family if there is a history of abuse? A few years ago Francisco began asking to visit his family again. With the accompaniment of one of our security guards we granted his wish and slowly facilitated an opportunity to re-establish a relationship with his family. The chaperoned visits proved successful and the relationship with his parents was transformed and he was welcomed back with open arms. Francisco was even able to help them improve their home and fix their roof with his tools and new skills.
So after careful consideration we decided that moving back with his family would be a good transition before moving out completely on his own. We are confident the relationship with his mother has changed and that Francisco is strong and capable of defending himself now. Ultimately, it is the goal of D2C to keep families together and we believe this is a step in the right direction for our eldest boy.
Francisco will always be part of our D2C family and Diane, our In Country Director, has been keeping in close contact with him. She reports that he is doing well and enjoys reconnecting and supporting his original family. D2C will still be involved in the next steps for Francisco, for it is our intention to help all of our D2C kids to graduate from our guardianship with a clear path and guidance towards a successful and independent future.