Chrys Peterson, left, gets a high five from Achiga Dor,2, as he is held by his host parents, Dave and Kathleen Mierzwiak, during a fund-raiser in his honor.
Two-year-old Achiga Dor strummed on a guitar, greeted family and friends, and playfully walked around Olander Park’s community hall Friday night. The toddler gave no hint of the peril that struck him last year.
“He came to us deprived, skinny, and malnourished,” said Dave Mierzwiak of Sylvania.
He and his wife, Kathleen, have been hosting Achiga since March so an operation he underwent in his native Haiti for intestinal issues could be reversed. The resurgery here was successful.
“He had a rough go. He developed severe complications. It was doom or gloom for awhile,” Mrs. Mierzwiak said.
Achiga came knowing no English. He will return as an English speaker, with an extended American family, and hopefully a new home with a bathroom.
Friday night, his host family and friends held a benefit dinner for the boy and his family — who are living in a tent-city after their home was destroyed in the catastrophic earthquake of 2010 — and other children in undeveloped countries in need of life-changing surgery.
About 300 people gathered in Olander Park’s Nederhouser Community hall to show their support and love for the Haitian who has forever changed his host family’s life, and the organization which placed him in the United States, Angel Missions Haiti.
“He is such a beautiful boy. It’s wonderful that people in northwest Ohio can have an effect on someone who lives halfway around the world,” said the evening’s emcee and Sylvania resident Chrys Peterson, a WTOL-TV, Channel 11 news anchor.
“He has made us better people, and deepened our faith,” Mrs. Mierzwiak said. Little Achiga, although a baby when he arrived, would often clasp his hands together indicating it was time for family prayer, and the Mierzwiaks happily obliged.
“His mom asked one thing of us: to pray with him,” Mr. Mierzwiak said.
The host family, known as Papa and Mama, Skype with Achiga’s birth parents, called Mama Haiti and Papa Haiti, often. The Mierzwiaks said they are waiting for the doctor’s final approval before accompanying him home. They are aiming for spring.
After he is home, they plan to stay in touch with the family. The Mierzwiaks aim to raise $10,000 to buy the family a home. Any additional proceeds will benefit the Angel Missions Haiti.
To donate or learn how to host a child in need of medical attention, go to angelmissions.org.