Yeni maneuvered the motorbike through the slick, rainy streets of her community in the Dominican Republic. She looked down at her 2-day-old son, soaking wet and strapped tight to her chest. The baby trembled, his lips tinged blue.
“Please don’t let my son die,” she thought as she pulled up to the hospital and rushed inside.
Little Franklin survived that night, but for weeks after his symptoms persisted. Eventually he was diagnosed with a heart murmur and asthma. Yeni was committed to keeping her son alive. But her care for him was tinged with fear. She rarely let him leave the house and refused to send him to school. He couldn’t run or play with his friends because Yeni was so afraid of her son collapsing from any physical exertion.
When Franklin was 4, Yeni finally relented and registered him at the Compassion center near their home. His first days at the center were painful. Franklin hid in the corner and refused to join the other children.
Quisqueya was Franklin’s first tutor, and she used to kneel beside the boy with a plate of food that he would quietly sneak bites from. Quisqueya believed that this was more than typical shyness, so she arranged for Franklin to visit the center psychologist.
“After the psychologist evaluated him, she told me something that changed my perspective,” says Quisqueya. “She said that Franklin needed someone to speak softly and with tenderness to him. What Franklin needed was someone to just give him love.”
Slowly, Quisqueya began to win Franklin over. She convinced him to play with the other children, and soon he had moved from his corner to the lunch table. And as his social skills improved, so did Franklin’s health. He began to gain weight and visited the doctor regularly. Eventually he was even strong enough to undergo surgery for his heart murmur.
Today, Franklin is 7 and barely recognizable from his first days at the center. He is active and playful and has decided he wants to be a teacher when he grows up.
Yeni has also found healing in her son’s journey. Still fiercely protective of Franklin, she now can parent him from a place of love instead of fear. Allowing him to continue this journey out of poverty into life.