Helping Michelet: a family's journey - KOTA Territory News

Helping Michelet: a family's journey

? Michelet enjoying the beach. ? Michelet enjoying the beach.
? Shylah Slaughter meets Michelet. ? Shylah Slaughter meets Michelet.
? Gayla and Michelet enjoying the pool. ? Gayla and Michelet enjoying the pool.
? Michelet swinging with Gayla. ? Michelet swinging with Gayla.
? Gayla and Michelet. ? Gayla and Michelet.

In this day and age it's hard to imagine a place where only 53 percent of the population is literate, 80 percent of people live below the poverty line, and where most children suffer from malnutrition.

But those statistics paint a picture of life in Haiti.

And through an unlikely journey, a little Haitian boy captured the heart of a KOTA Territory family.

He has an infectious laugh.

"He does just have an amazing joyful spirit," said Gayla Slaughter.

And a smile that hides any indication of his difficult past.

"They really expected that he would be dead," adds Gayla.

3 year- old Michelet entered Gayla and Dwain Slaughter's life through their daughter Shylah's volunteer work in Haiti.

"When she brought back pictures and continued to talk about him, I fell in love with him through her," said Gayla.

A few months later Michelet needed life saving surgery. So with her husband serving overseas and both daughters off at college; Gayla traveled to Haiti to help Michelet's recover.

"I was there by the time he came home from the hospital and 3 weeks post op to help care for him," said Gayla.

During her time there, Gayla's bond with Michelet grew.

"Even though you can see the ocean from his roof top he didn't have the opportunity to go to the beach because of his wheel chair. Even if they took the other children at the orphanage, he didn't always get to go because it is just so difficult to get him from place to place. But he loved the water and his eyes with twinkle and he'd giggle and laugh," said Gayla.

But with the laughter came the stark reality of the daily struggles of life in Haiti.

"It's still very difficult for Haitians to find clean water, food, and most of them live on dollars a day," recalls Gayla.

But Haiti's bleak reality doesn't end there.

The World Health Organization estimates Haiti's healthy life expectancy at birth is only 44 years. And less than half of the population receives the recommended immunizations.

"The lack of medical care is certainly a big deal and of course that's our main concern with Michelet with his medical needs," said Gayla.

Gayla says because of those needs, she and her husband Dwaine (who's never met Michelet) were compelled to do more.

"It is our hope that we can get him here on a medical visa," said Gayla.

A medical visa would allow Michelet to travel to the U.S. and live with the Slaughter family.

While here he would receive the medical care he needs to help him learn to walk.

"But we know the first thing we have to do is build a medical team of doctors who are willing to care for him and donate that care so he can come. Because being an orphan in Haiti he doesn't have access to medical insurance," said Gayla

As the Slaughters continue to build that team; their goal is simple.

"To help make a better life for him," said Dwaine.

The Slaughters are still working on building that medical team; that includes a Pediatrician, an Orthopedic doctor, an Orthopedic surgeon,  a Neurologist, a Neurosurgeon, and a Physical therapist.

Once assembled, Michelet could be in Rapid City and on the road to recovery in just a few short months.

And special thanks to Sarah Blake-Morgan, a reporter from KCBD-TV in Lubbock, Texas.

She traveled to Haiti, met Michelet, heard his story and put us in contact with the Slaughters.

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