In January of 2017, a DSM International team (formerly Don Shire Ministries) visited Jehovah Rapha House for the first time. We had heard that Jehovah Rapha House was a home for children with special needs, but knew no other details. We offered to do a simple medical clinic there with a pediatrician, nurse, and physical therapist on our team, while the rest of the team showed Christ’s love to the kids through music, play, snuggles, and donations. Our medical assessments showed that the children had a wide variety of diagnoses and abilities, as well as significant malnutrition, but yet showed no signs of neglect. We were all touched by not only the children themselves, but also by the dedication we observed among the workers there. The children were being well loved and cared for, despite obvious extreme poverty. We met the house parents, Pastor and Madame Dare. They were warm and welcoming, but also were clearly under stress to continue caring for the children. They told us that the American missionary who had been supporting them financially had fallen ill, and had discontinued their support. They told us they were only able to afford to feed the children one time per day. The team left, but Jehovah Rapha House had imprinted on our hearts.
In May of 2017, Don Shire sent Julie McFadden and Jennifer King back to find out more about Jehovah Rapha House, to explore the idea of beginning to support them financially. We sat down with Pastor and Madame Dare, and heard their remarkable story:
The Dares told us that in Haiti, children with special needs are often abandoned. Many families are unable or unwilling to accept the financial burden of caring for and feeding a child who will never be independent or able to earn money for the family. When a family has many children, those who are sick, malnourished, or disabled are often discarded, in order to better care for the healthier children. They are often seen as worthless or even dangerous. Many Haitians fear individuals with special needs, seeing them as cursed or bad luck, especially those who practice Voodoo, which continues to be a dark problem in Haiti.
After the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, Yphosia Dare worked as a nurse, taking care of children with special needs. Pastor Jean Philippe Dare and Yphosia Dare felt called by God to help these children, to prevent them from being abandoned, left to perish. The Lord led the Dares to an American missionary through the father of one of Yphosia Dare’s patients, who was also a pastor. The missionary agreed to help the Dares open a home for children with special needs, where they could be loved and cared for in a stable environment. He asked Yphosia Dare to go out into the community and gather a list of children. She returned with 69 names.
They were simply unable to financially support that many children. Yphosia Dare took in the seven most extremely disabled children, who were clearly unsafe in their own families, and convinced the rest of the families to continue caring for their children. Nedved was the first child to come to the home, as he had been thrown away in the trash three times. Other children came to the home as people began to hear about the home and word spread. Neighbors told mothers who were abandoning or close to abandoning a child about the home. The children had a wide variety of medical and physical needs. Some were very malnourished, and recovered with proper nutrition at the home.
The number of children continued to grow, and the Dares continued to care for the children with meager means, even after the American missionary fell ill and was unable to continue assisting them. Other local missionaries in Haiti helped as much as they could, including asking the team from DSM International to visit. When the team from DSM International found them in 2017, the home had 30 children, but was out of money, out of food, and out of space. They were also being evicted by their current landlord because he was angry when he found out people with special needs were living in his house.
What a story! The sincerity, sadness, unconditional Christ-like love and faith the Dares exhibited while telling their story convinced Don Shire and staff to donate much needed funding to help the home get through June of 2017, and then decided to officially take in the home under the wing of DSM International in July of 2017. The home was officially named Jehovah Rapha House at the request of the Dares. “Jehovah Rapha” means “The God who Heals,” such a fitting name.
Julie McFadden accepted the position of Haiti Director for DSM International in December of 2017. Julie, Don Shire and Jennifer King helped to find Jehovah Rapha House a new rental home. They, and so many other donors and volunteers, have secured donations from people all over the United States, including money, clothing, beds, medical and special needs equipment, toys, and so much more. DSM International and other missionary teams continue to visit Jehovah Rapha House throughout each year, bringing such donations with them. People also donate money online, by mail, and/or by sponsoring children monthly on a long term basis. DSM International missionary staff and interns who live full time at our ministry center, called Our House of Hope nearby in Port au Prince, are always ready and willing to help out. They provide Jehovah Rapha House continual support and love, including medical assistance, rides to school, lessons in English, and so much more. Even when team trips to Haiti from the US are not possible, DSM International continues to support Jehovah House monthly, paying for food, supplies, clothing, medical costs, school, workers’ wages, and even funeral costs.
There are a wide variety of ages of individuals living at Jehovah Rapha House, from newborns to young adults. Some children are well and attend school, which is so exciting. There are also a wide variety of medical and physical diagnoses and needs. Some children are very medically fragile, and the medical system in Haiti is not always available or effective. We have lost children along the way, and miss them each dearly. However, we know that God is in control of each life at Jehovah Rapha House. He loves every child there dearly, even more than we love them. We know that God has called DSM International, and every person who supports or visits Jehovah Rapha House, to love these children well while they are in our care in this life. In the next life, we look forward to a wonderful welcome and huge hugs from the children who were loved well at Jehovah Rapha House, who are now whole and healed in the arms of Jesus.
Meanwhile, children continue to arrive at Jehovah Rapha House, needing care and love. The home is in excellent standing with the Haitian government and social work department, so they even bring us children who have been abandoned. The burden to continue to support the children, the Dares, and the workers of Jehovah Rapha House is an honor for DSM International, its donors, volunteers, staff, short-term and long-term missionaries, “Thanks be to God” as our Haitian friends would say. We have embraced the short term commitment of loving and supporting them well. We also have long term hopes and prayers that include a permanent property with plenty of room and land, with different houses on the property based on age, gender, medical and physical needs, and so much more. We pray for opportunities for the children to be educated and employed. All of our hopes and plans are in God’s hands, “God willing,” as our Haitian friends would say. We can’t wait to see what God has in store for Jehovah Rapha House!
Will you stop and pray right now for our friends at Jehovah Rapha House?
Thank you for your prayers and support! If you would like more information, please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org.