After Emma’s adoption was finalized in 2010, I (Rachel Mills) was determined to find and meet our daughter’s birth family. The following year, while in Haiti on a business trip, I made my first visit to Bonnette and met Emma’s birth mother and three siblings. Her birth parents, living in a one-room house with no electricity, running water or even an outhouse, could barely afford to feed Emma’s siblings let alone pay for their education. I immediately committed to fund her brother and sisters’ educations and began reaching out to organizations that were already working in that area of Haiti. Within a few days I connected with the US office of an established, well-funded mission that was located in a neighboring Haitian community. They readily agreed to admit Emma’s siblings into their school and to provide the family with a monthly distribution of food. I was ecstatic!
For the next year my husband and I made monthly contributions to this highly rated organization, but I began to become suspicious when the information we were receiving as sponsors was not only inaccurate, but fabricated! During my next visit to Bonnette, my concerns unfortunately were validated. The family had never received any food distributions nor had Emma’s siblings attended even one day of school at the organization’s facility. During that trip it was discovered that there was a small village school just a short walk from the family home and thanks to the help of some of my dear Haitian friends and colleagues, Emma’s brother and sisters were enrolled at Ecole Le Village De L’Avenir (The Village School of the Future).
Since 2011 I have visited Emma’s birth family at least once a year and Haitian friends check in with the family and school director periodically to make sure they are doing well. It was during these visits that the school director, Sainfait Exius, began planting the seeds for what has become PEARLS in Haiti. He could clearly see what a positive change had taken place through the funding of Emma’s birth siblings’ educations. Her birth siblings went from not being able to attend school to excelling in their classes! When Director Exius first began asking if my husband and I would consider assisting other families the way we were Emma’s birth family, I quickly and respectfully declined. Assisting Emma’s birth family was a personal endeavor. I had dedicated 17 years of my career to a Christian health development agency working throughout Haiti and was fully committed to that organization. Not to mention, there were already plenty of Non-Government Organizations in the “NGO capital of the world.”
As the years passed, Director Exius was persistent in his requests for us to assist more families in Bonnette. In spite of all the NGOs working in Haiti, his community was falling between the cracks. After much prayer and consideration, I resigned from my positions on the US and International Boards of the health development agency and began fundraising specifically for the school in Bonnette.
In September 2017 I traveled to Haiti to meet with Director Exius and awarded the first, of currently seven, PEARLS of Wisdom Grants to a little boy named Davidson. Davidson started pre-K at The Village School of the Future in October 2017.