Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More on Johnny D

Johnny D Gets a Name

A few of the Project HOPE staff and volunteers were able to make a visit to the facility where Johnny D—the boy without a name-- was transferred after his stay aboard the USNS Comfort.

Johnny first became known to the staff at Mission of Hope when he was dropped anonymously not long after the January 12 earthquake—his condition appalling and his identity unknown.

He was immediately transferred to the USNS Comfort where Project HOPE volunteers and Navy medical staff cared for him for about a month, removing a tumor that had destroyed his right eye and grafting skin from his leg to cover the exposed area.

Last week he was discharged back to Mission of Hope, a spacious and well-maintained campus in the countryside outside of Port-au-Prince, which houses a school, hospital and small orphanage.

On normal days, about 1300 children attend classes at the mission. These days, the classrooms have become homes for about 60 orphans and their “moms,” Haitian women hired to take care of them. Project HOPE visitors were thrilled to visit the classroom where Johnny now lives with two other children and the three loving moms who share in their upbringing. Bright posters cover the wall. Toys and clothes are piled neatly at the foot of each child’s bed. And there are plenty of hugs to go around.

Johnny is receiving medical care at the mission’s medical facility, currently being partially staffed by volunteer teams from Austin Medical Relief for Haiti, who have been on one-week rotations since the earthquake. On the day of the Project HOPE visit, Johnny’s skin graft was derided. An infection threatened the new eye flap, which has been through three such procedures since his arrival. Doctors are discussing the possibility of a second graft.

Despite the sedatives he was under this day, Johnny’s bright smile still lit up the room and he stretched out his tiny arm to all in the room for his hallmark fist bump.

Most importantly, Johnny Doe finally has a name: Job, after a biblical figure who was tested by God, found to be true and rewarded beyond his wildest dreams.

Story and photos by photojournalist and HOPE volunteer, Allison Shelley.

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