Earthquake Response

HEI/SBH are urgently responding to the earthquake. Support our efforts here. Media inquiries contact Katie Wallace at kwallace@haitihealth.org.

A Stray Bullet & A New Life: Marvens Comes Home

In September 2019, six-year-old Marvens was suddenly struck by a stray bullet as he played outside with his twin brother, Mervens. The boys lived with their aunt Thersula and their extended family in Les Cayes, a city near the end of Haiti’s southern peninsula. Thersula rushed Marvens to Port-au-Prince to try and find care, a journey that took five hours. Over the next month, Marvens received two surgeries—one at Hospital Bernard Mevs, and one in Cuba.

Ultimately, Marvens was diagnosed with paraplegia—paralysis of the legs and lower body. Thersula and her family were referred to St. Boniface Hospital so Marvens could receive rehabilitative care through our spinal cord injury (SCI) program. 

Known for his bright smile and boundless laughter, Marvens was an instant ray of light at the hospital. “He’s always looking to make friends,” says Magna Maignan, a social worker for St. Boniface Hospital, “whenever he sees you he just wants to play.” Over the next three months, Marvens received specialized wound care and physical therapy. He learned to use a wheelchair—staff and patients alike loved to see him laugh as he zipped around the hospital’s many winding pathways. He also received psychosocial support to help him accept his injury and understand that while he may face challenges as a person with a disability, his disability does not have to limit his dreams. Magna and the SCI team also made routine visits to his home and school to prepare his community for his eventual reintegration. “We’re looking into all aspects of Marven’s life,” Magna says, “it’s our job to provide him as much autonomy as we can, allowing him to move forward.”

Thersula and Mervens longed to have Marvens back home with them. Magna recalls that every time she visited their home in Les Cayes, the entire family would rush out of the house, thinking that Marvens would be there. She says, “When we finally brought Marvens home, they saw him and exploded with joy.” Although Marvens has already faced incredible challenges in his young life, his family and the SCI team will be there for him every step of the way as he continues to make great strides in his recovery. “Marvens is home so we’re happy,” says Thersula, ”we’ll love him as we always have.”