Of the many, many things I have to be thankful for today, Dieunison stands out as the most unexpected blessing in my life. When he adopted me in 2010 I could not have realized how much he would personify everything fantastic and tragic about Haiti. He became the narrative thread of my Haitian adventure described in Architecture by Moonlight and its most popular character. He’s captivated readers of Boston Globe Magazine and was the featured essay this month on Medium. Today he and his brother Dieurie are heads taller than when I first met them, live in a secure house, have regular meals and education (thank you, Lex and Renee Edme and everyone at Mission of Hope). They may be awkward 13 and 14 teenagers still grappling with third and fourth grade, but their opportunities have never been brighter.
Fortunately, none of these ‘improvements’ have altered Dieunison’s fundamental character – he is still a mischievous cut-up and natural heart breaker. He charms and confounds everyone who crosses his path. Dieunison recently captivated Sean Collins, a Mission of Hope volunteer, with a studious side I have never seen yet always knew existed within his clever spirit. Using yet another derivative spelling of this chameleon’s name, Sean writes in his blog:
Some of the kids have definitely been a big inspiration too. With the class of younger kids most of them just want to play math games and take pictures. But one kid in particular is too fascinated by the world around him to be caught up in that sort of mindless entertainment. Dionson (pronounced Jenson) is a 13 year old boy whose bright mind and thirst for knowledge has truly amazed me. All class he sits and reads the French Wikipedia pages. He’s on a new topic every day and never stops asking questions. Together we’ve explored sounds, light, the stars, the planets, force, and a few other aspects of the natural world. After the second day of class he begged me to let him keep the laptop out a little longer. I of course said yes and he went with me to the room where I charge the laptops. A few minutes later one of his friends appeared and asked if he could use a laptop. I told him he could only use one if he used it to read. He agreed to my terms and booted up his own machine. After about 30 minutes I had a group of 5 all laying on the carpet eagerly exploring Wikipedia. Dionson is a brilliant young mind and I hope the other kids continue to follow in his footsteps.
I never take for granted the many gifts in my life. But Dieunison infiltrated my soul so unexpectedly he is a unique gift. I have promised him and his brother Dieurie that when they graduate high school, I will bring them to visit the United States. That is years away, but I can already envision what joyful chaos he will create at our Thanksgiving feast.