Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
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Bruce Lindsay reportingHaiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, has at least 7,000 street kids--children who have no parents--at least, parents who support them.
Some are as young as four or five. They sleep outside and find their own food.
They dart through traffic, some offering to wipe a windshield in exchange for a few cents.
Many don't know their birth date. Some don't have a last name.
Leah Maesato: ""THESE ARE KIDS THAT ARE LIVING ON THE STREET."
Seventy percent of the street kids are boys. Rebecca Maesato and her daughters have befriended more than they could count.
Rebecca Maesato: "WE MAKE BREAD RUNS. WE USUALLY BRING THEM BREAD. SO WE HAVE A WHOLE GROUP THAT FOLLOWS US UP THE STREET."
And the Maesatos seek them out to deliver sandwiches and clean water, and the hugs they've never had.
|**How to Help**
To make donations to the Maesato family's nonprofit Foundation for Children in Need, or to obtain information on adopting abandoned and orphaned children from Haiti:|
Or mail donations to:
Ann Maesato, Age 17: "THEY DIDN'T GET LOVE. AND SO, WHEN YOU HUG THEM, THEY JUST MELT, AND ARE JUST LITTLE BOYS."
Rebecca Maesato: "YOU KNOW, YOU CLEAN THEM UP AND PUT SOME CLOTHES ON THEM AND THEY'RE NORMAL, BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL CHILDREN."
Rebecca Maesato says that with conviction. She has taken ten teenage street boys into her home in Haiti, boys who now call her "Mom."
She has cleaned them up; sends them to school, gives them clothes and food, household chores, limited TV, even drums.
After spending years in the chaos of the streets, these boys are experiencing a home life with structure and discipline.
Rebecca Maesato: "DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE A FAMILY NOW, AND OUR LOYALTIES ARE TO EACH OTHER?"
The task is daunting for a single parent, as it would be for ten parents. But Rebecca Maesato says she's in it for the long haul.
Rebecca Matesato: "THERE ARE PARTICULAR KIDS THAT YOU REALLY BOND WITH. IT'S NOT JUST 'I LOVE ALL OF THESE CHILDREN.' IT'S 'THIS IS MY CHILD. I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT THIS CHILD.'"
So, adoption proceedings are underway.
And when Maesato comes back here, some day, to Cache Valley, she expects to return with five Haitian sons.
Rebecca Maesato: ""I NEVER DREAMED THAT THAT WOULD BE THE CASE."
Leah Maesato: "OH, I AM SO EXCITED. I LOVE MY BROTHERS. I LOVE THEM, AND THEY TALK ABOUT AMERICA EVERY DAY. AND I AM JUST SO EXCITED FOR THEM TO GO BACK, BECAUSE THEY WILL GET A CHANCE AT LIFE."
A chance at a life, in Utah, in a permanent home, for five abandoned Haitian kids.
Some who live with her, and hundreds of thousands of others will remain.
Rebecca Maesato: "I DON'T KNOW HOW I AM GOING TO LEAVE THEM. THAT IS IN THE FUTURE, AND I CAN'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW. IT BRINGS A LOT OF SADNESS TO ME."
Rebecca Maesato knows she can't save Haiti. But she knows she can change a life, one child at a time.
The Maesatos host volunteer workers in Haiti, and have formed a non-profit corporation to fund their efforts.