Chul’s mother died a month after giving birth to his little brother, from complications of malnutrition. When Chul and his older brother T’Will were brought to our home in Port au Prince, no one knew exactly how old he was—maybe three?
Needless to say, when Chul arrived he was quite traumatized. He had just lost his mother, hadn’t had a good meal in forever, and felt lost and scared. He kept to himself and wouldn’t play with the other children.
There was a small tricycle on the terrace that he began to ride, slowly peddling back and forth for an hour at a time. Didi began to notice that after riding, Chul seemed calmer. It became clear the rhythmic riding of the bike was extremely therapeutic for Chul, and thus was born the ‘Bikes for Haiti’ project.
Stephanie Walker and Chris Jones, Vermont volunteers extraordinaire, jumped in and began sending out requests for donations and were also able to get complimentary baggage allowance from Jetblue, with the result that we brought 9 bikes with us on our February trip!
The smiles, excitement and absolute pure joy was contagious! And as per their usual style, the kids were as excited to share this surprise with the other children in the area as they were to get to ride the new bikes. When we got to meet Chul, it was beautiful to see how, over the past 4 months, this little boy was able to find healing in the love, good food, companionship of the other children, and of course, his bike therapy. He is now a talkative, outgoing little guy, who is happiest when he is surrounded by the other children in his new Amurtel family.