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Sept. 16, 2003

Faces of HAITI

Gegis Peterson, 9, is in charge of the animals and taking care of himself and his diabetic father, who has been hospitalized several times at St Boniface Hospital.

ine-year-old Gegis Peterson kneels on the floor of St. Boniface Hospital, reaches into a pail and splashes water on his father’s feet.

His father, Bismen LaFontaine, has diabetes. More than a week before, father and son walked two hours and 45 minutes from their home to the hospital. It was their second visit in two months. The last time, LaFontaine was released but couldn’t afford the insulin he needs to stay healthy.

Gegis knows his dad is sick, and he’s scared. He has already lost his mother, and he has no other relatives nearby.

“I’m worried about my father,” he said quietly in Creole as he sat on a bench outside the hospital.

At home, Gegis does what he can to help out. A tiny boy with wide eyes and hair cropped close to his head, he explains that he cleans the house, tends to farm animals and walks goats around. He pauses for a moment, and a hint of pride creeps into his voice when he says that he also kills the goats for food and cooks dinner.

For all his responsibility, Gegis is still very much a child. Tucked under his arm is a small notepad he shows to just about anyone willing to look. Inside, on lined, white pages are colorful pictures of trucks that could have been drawn by a 9-year-old anywhere in the world.

On another page, is a simple sketch: Gegis and his father, smiling, in front of their house.

Karen Eschbacher may be reached at

Stories by
Karen Eschbacher
Photos by
Gary Higgins

The Patriot Ledger

A Daily Struggle to Survive: Volunteers help fight starvation in Haiti:

Haitian Burn Victim gets Aid - and a New Family

Faces of Haiti: The LaFontaine family

Links to the South Shore of Massachusetts: Milton dentist gives Haitians the simple gift of a smile

Haiti's History: Political instability chases away hopes of achieving better life

Personal Journal

Numbers That Count: Food & Nutrition

Small map of Haiti (90KB)

Large map of Haiti (100KB)

Photos from Haiti (462KB)

View printed pages from the series


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