***Jenni’s real name is not given to protect her identity.
Although Jenni* was born in Haiti, she was brought to an orphanage in the Dominican Republic especially for children who have a disease called HIV which can lead to AIDS. This disease affects the immune system and can be spread to others so children must be careful when they get a cut or scrape.
Jenni is only two years old but is an orphan since her mother died of AIDS and no one knows where her father lives. Child protective services brought her to the orphanage when she was only three months old, and they are unsure if she has any brothers or sisters.
When she first came to the orphanage, Jenni’s stomach started growing at an abnormal rate. She developed a large mass in her stomach. She needs an operation to remove it, but the doctor is concerned she’s too young for the surgery. More tests will be run to check if the mass in her stomach is cancer or not. This summer they’ll drain some of the liquid and see if it stays down. It doesn’t hurt Jenni, and she acts just like a normal kid.
God clearly brought Jenni to the orphanage for a reason. There she receives the medicine she needs for HIV and also love and encouragement as she grows and learns. All of the kids there love her and care for her deeply.
When asked what her favorite food was, the principal laughed and said, “Everything, she likes to eat a lot!” Jenni speaks Spanish and her favorite word to say is, “mira” which means “look.” She loves to run and jump over things. One day the principal came into a classroom and she was just jumping off the desk—fearless!
Because of the work of this orphanage in the Dominican Republic, Jenni gets medicine for her HIV, regular food, medical care, love, discipleship and an education (she’s currently in preschool). She’s one of the youngest in the house and everyone loves and takes care of her, especially the older kids.
Here are some other fun things about Jenni:
-She shares with everyone.
-She’s shy at first, but loves to talk to kids her own age and is really chatty over time.
-Jenni is incredibly smart
-She only gets sad if she doesn’t feel well.
-Jenni loves bubbles!
- Jenni is only two years old and has already faced some big problems. Ask your children to name some of the hard things in Jenni’s life. (loss of parents, HIV, possible cancer)
- Now discuss Jenni’s blessings and how God has provided for her in the midst of her difficult circumstances.
- Ask your children to name one or two of the hardest things they have had to deal with in life.
- Then ask them to think of how God has provided for them in their difficult circumstances.
Although Jenni’s story is extreme, all kids go through tough times and their pain is very real. Help them to see God at work taking care of them when they feel lonely, disappointed, or sick.
Ways You Can Get Involved: Jenni loves bubbles! Consider organizing a drive to collect consumable fun activities for kids like bubbles, balloons, play dough, or art kits. Also you could add things that orphanages always need like kids vitamins (no gummies – they melt)! Then find a VisionTrust team heading to the Dominican Republic or another country that can deliver these items.
Fun Fact: The Dominican Republic is known as the bread basket of the Caribbean because it grows, farms and catches almost everything that’s served for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Prayer: Pray for Jenni to stay healthy and for the tumor in her stomach to go away. Pray that she would grow in faith and love.
Scripture: “He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?” says the LORD. Jeremiah 22:16