Earthquake Remembrances: through the eyes of a Blessings employee

Adapted from a testimony written by retired Blessings employee, Gayle DiGiovanni, in 2021.

Responding to the Disaster

We were still in Blessings’ rented office/warehouse space when the phone calls started to come in, alerting us to a serious earthquake that erupted in Haiti on January 12, 2010. I don’t remember which one of our partnering ministries was the first to tell us about this horrific event, but it was as if we were there, sharing the pain and the loss through the phone calls and emails from those on the ground or those getting ready to fly out, telling their stories, asking for help. It was hard to imagine then the impact this earthquake would have, without the benefit of news alerts on our phones, or news updates streaming across our screens. It was hard for anyone to imagine that it would become known as the most devastating natural disaster to hit the poorest country in the western hemisphere, affecting 3 million people, with 250,000 lives lost, 300,000 injured, and 1.5 million displaced from their homes.

Because I was at Blessings International, working on the team that took disaster relief orders for essential, lifesaving medicines and supplies, I could do more than sympathize with those who were hurting. I could go to work and actually do something to directly help those involved and bring healing to the hurting people of Haiti.

What I remember most about that time is the display of teamwork from all my coworkers. We truly functioned as a team like never before because the situation demanded that we do so. No one said, “That’s not my job.” We hardly knew where our individual jobs started and where they ended, as the lines blurred and we helped one another to get the medicine in and then get it shipped out. The bond that this experience gave us carried us through many more disaster situations to come, but this one time will always be etched in my memory as a time of great purpose and meaning in my life.

Meanwhile in Haiti…

Meanwhile after the earthquake, on the ground in Haiti, a young man named Esaie Jean Louis and his brother began combing the streets of Cite Soleil, searching for their friends and family members. What they found were children wandering around in the debris, looking for their parents who never returned from Port-au-Prince, where they had gone to buy or sell things before the earthquake.

Esaie and his brother knew that God wanted them to help these children, so they gathered them together and brought them to live with them in Titanyen. This was the start of Jesus Name Orphanage (JNO), a work that changed the lives of these orphans forever.

Gayle posing with Esaie when she visited Jesus Name Orphanage in 2019.


HOMS: Beauty from Ashes

Without question, my favorite program to work on at Blessings International was the HOMS project. Haiti Orphanage Medical Support is headed up by Debi Lammert, CNS, and Esaie Jean Louis, who became one of our Haitian directors. Jesus Name Orphanage is one of the many orphanages in this program developed through Blessings International. A mobile medical clinic that traveled throughout the country of Haiti, providing primary medical care, medicine, and vitamins, and also tracked approximately 800 children for growth and nutritional milestones, is truly a life-giving program.

Gayle at one of the orphanages the HOMS program serves.


I got to experience HOMS first-hand when I traveled to Haiti in January 2019 to visit many of the orphanages Blessings helped. Children that could easily be overlooked or undervalued now knew that someone cared enough to see how much they weighed each month or whether they took their vitamins, and were treated for intestinal parasites.

One little boy, named Stanley, made this program so real for me. He came to JNO about six years ago at age four. He was a frightened, withdrawn, malnourished little boy, who would not even make eye contact with nurse Debi or Esaie. The love poured into this child’s life, not only by the adults who cared for him but his own “family” of brothers and sisters at JNO, allowed Stanley to blossom into the outgoing, fun-loving 10-year-old he is today. The medicines he received through HOMS were also critical to his recovery. I am so grateful to have been a small part of his life and to keep up with all the kids at JNO through Debi’s ministry, Healing Hearts International, and to follow Blessings’ HOMS project as they continue to serve the children of Haiti.

Stanley as a fourth grader!

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