To sponsor Luckneau please visit www.haitihero.org
It is 4 a.m. in a small mountain village. A tiny six-year-old boy rises in the darkness, bathes, and carefully puts on his school uniform. Taking his four-year-old sister by the hand, they begin the two-hour walk to school. He tries to pay attention to his lessons, but his stomach is rumbling—there had been no dinner last night. Still in preschool, he does his best to learn his letters and recite them for the teacher. When he gets home, he collects firewood and builds a small fire in the cooking pit outside the small wooden shack. Carefully he prepares a meal of rice and beans. He brings a plate to his mother’s sickbed and urges her to eat. Scarcely more than skin and bones, she is wasting away. It is not long before she will join her husband who has already succumbed to AIDS.
Three years later, Luckneau André still rises at 4 a.m. to walk his sister to school, when he can. They live with his grandparents and uncles now, in the tiny two-room house. There are so many mouths to feed that even with their garden of rice, beans, pineapple, and mangos there is still not enough to go around. Caring for the garden consumes his day now, as does carrying water. Even if he is able to make the time to go to school, there is rarely enough time to study. Nine years old and still struggling in the first grade, Luckneau was given an opportunity that would change his life.
Luckneau’s new life began with a seven hour walk from his home in the mountains to the nearest town accessible by road—Petite Rivière d’Artibonite. Upon his arrival, he saw a light post and exclaimed, “Look! That tree is on fire!” Never having experienced electricity, he was fascinated. Next came the two-hour drive to the H.E.R.O. House. Many things changed that day. For the first time, Luckneau knew that he would eat three meals every day. He would sleep in a strong house that could protect him from bad weather. A trip to the doctor proved he had escaped the fate of his parents.
In spite of his tragic history, Luckneau is full of joy and quick to laugh. He won’t walk somewhere if he can run, and he has embraced his new life with exuberance. He splashed and “swam” for hours on his first visit to the ocean. Now he attends school each day and has a tutor in the afternoons who helps him catch up on the schooling he missed. He is also learning strategy in Chess Club. “I’m happy I came here,” Luckneau says, and we are too!
To sponsor Lukneau please visit www.haitihero.org