Taming ‘Crazy Mari’

We support a network of 18 Christian schools in Haiti that educates and feeds more than 6,600 desperately poor children. Many of these kids find their school and its loving teachers to be a refuge from heartbreaking circumstances.

Celena, 50, rescued 15-year-old Mari from the streets four years ago, and continues to give her a loving home and a Christian education.
Celena, 50, rescued 15-year-old Mari from the streets four years ago, and continues to give her a loving home and a Christian education.

Take “Crazy Mari,” for example. That’s what people called her, anyway. She sure looked crazy with her bare feet, torn clothes, and matted hair, thought Celena Joseus, a teacher at a Christian school in rural Saintard, about two hours outside Port-au-Prince. Celena had found “Crazy Mari,” whose real name was Mari Filsaime, wandering the streets.

When Celena approached the girl, the first words out of the 11-year-old’s mouth were, “I am hungry, Madame.” It was then Celena realized this girl was not crazy at all, just terribly neglected. Mari’s mother, who really did have mental problems, had abandoned her and wandered to another town. Her father was dead. Her extended family, thinking she was crazy like her mother, refused to take Mari in — so she was left to fend for herself.

“God touched my heart. I saw a child who was hurt and it made my heart ache,” said Celena. Already a mother of six, she took Mari home to raise her as her own child.

In the loving home of Celena and her husband Pierre, the school principal and pastor of a local church, Mari blossomed. Today she is a happy, healthy 15-year-old who has been attending the Christian school for three years. Celena said, “Now everyone is shocked to see Mari; they cannot believe she is the same girl everyone thought was crazy!”

CLICK HERE, to learn more about this network of Cross-supported Christian schools.

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