"The story of the beautiful young Haitian girl my daughter is named after..."
~Leisha Tays

In order to preserve this beautiful story, I have reproduced it here.
Full credit to WFIE news in Nashville, Tennesee.

Haitian girl has amazing story thanks to Evansville native

Posted: Mar 24, 2010 8:21 PM CDT Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:21 PM EST
Posted by Sarah Harlan

HAITI(NBC) - Evansville native Michelle Meece taught school for 11 years in Owensboro, but after serving at the Hands and Feet orphanage in Haiti, she decided to move there to run it 3.5 years ago.

ChristelaShe's come across hundreds of kids while there, but one little girl stands out.

Across Haiti, there are some 500,000 orphans with unknown futures, but in the midst of the despair is a shining oasis at the foot of the mountains where more than 40 beautiful children get the care and attention so many others will never find.

"You hear the laughter of our kids out here, sometimes I just stop and I go, 'these are special children' because out of all the kids in Haiti, out of all you know, Haiti, you know so many children die every day here," Meece said.

Fewer kids will die now thanks to Hands and Feet, and all the kids at the six year old orphanage have special stories, but one definitely stands out.

She drew a crowd the day she was born because no one thought she would live.

"The baby was born at a school in Jacmel by a 15-year-old girl, and she had taken the baby out to an outhouse, and threw it away, and I was like, 'what do you mean she threw it in the outhouse?' 28 feet deep," Meece said.

But a young Haitian boy followed the trail of blood and heard the baby crying.

"Calls the police, they call the U.N.," Meece said. "When they get there with the Sri Lankan soldiers, he's just chipping away at this toilet because he knows he's gonna get down there and see this baby. Sorry. So, they sent a soldier down 28 feet down and get the baby out."

Even after the rescue, Meece didn't know if the baby would survive.

"Because we don't know if she has any internal damage, if she has any broken bones," Meece said.

But amazingly, the baby only had a small bruise.Christela

The biggest problem: Meece had to name her before police would hand her over, but she couldn't come up with one on the spot.

"And this police officer stand up and said her name is Cristela, and we go, 'oh, that's a pretty name'. He goes, 'because in Creole, that means Christ was there'. He said Christ held her in his hands all the way to the bottom of that toilet, and we're like, 'you're right, her name is Cristela'," Meece said.

Now, two years later, Cristela is a healthy young girl.

"You know, in the human aspect, she should just be a set of bones with gook all over the top of her now," Meece said.

The story so touched Hands and Feet worker Aegis Stuart that she and her husband Mark, who started the orphanage, made another life changing decision.

They thought the Haitian orphans would always be their family, but recently committed to adopting Cristela and best friend John John.

In fact, the Stuarts found out the kids could come to their home in Nashville sooner because of the quake.

Someday, Aegis said she will tell Cristela about her unbelievable beginning.

"Cuz it's really sad, but it's such a beautiful story, and it represents God's love for us," Aegis said.

For Aegis, Cristela also represents something else: her homeland.

"I'm not gonna let you be tossed away and thrown away, like garbage, tossed aside," Aegis said. "It's the same thing for the country of Haiti, feel like, it's like this is a forgotten country."

The Stuarts said they hope to clear the final adoption hurdles and have Cristela and John John home soon.

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Audio from the National Public Radio series,
"This I Believe", 2008