Wednesday, March 17, 2010

“We called him John Doe.”

Marie-Ange Tribié was not a Red Cross volunteer before the earthquake in Haiti. But when she learned from her nephew-in-law in Miami that the Red Cross was recruiting volunteer translators to go to Haiti, she signed on immediately.

She trained for a day at Chapter headquarters in Manhattan and was on her way two days later. Before leaving, Marie-Ange presciently said, “Translation is the assignment, but we know before going that we’ll be doing more. They need our comfort, our empathy. That’s where the human touch comes in. That is going to make a big difference in these people’s lives.”

On the Navy hospital ship Comfort Marie-Ange worked in a 58-bed ward filled with sick and injured children. “We called him John Doe,” Marie says of the little boy from a destroyed orphanage in Port-au-Prince who had been dropped off at a hospital in the capital by a motorcycle driver and sent to the ship by an onshore doctor. He was suffering from a skin disease that covered his emaciated body and had invaded his eye, and he was severely traumatized from the earthquake and its chaotic aftermath.

On the ship John drank nothing, and, at first, ate only graham crackers. His legs were like jelly; he would just fall down if one tried to make him stand. He did not speak. He screamed and cried constantly. He was so difficult that for a while he required sedation.

Noticing a few days later that little John Doe seemed responsive to soothing and holding, Marie-Ange volunteered to care for him and spent hours caressing, stroking and speaking to him. Since he couldn’t stand, she just sat and held him. Slowly he began to eat more and, after two weeks, he was eating, walking, jumping up and down, smiling from time to time, even kissing and hugging a stuffed bear. The same John who most of the kids were afraid of when he arrived onboard, became loved and cared for by all.

But John Doe never really talked. He did, however, curse—in Creole. Gently but firmly Marie-Ange weaned him from this habit. One day he went to help himself to the milk he knew was kept in a certain refrigerator. He cursed at the nurse who stopped him. Marie-Ange told him, “No cursing. When you want something, ask for it.” And he took the nurse’s hand and put it on the fridge.

“He was such a success story that everybody on the ship came to see him, even the captain and two visiting admirals,” said Marie-Ange. “But all he really needed was some love.”

Marie-Ange Tribié lives in Wilmington, North Carolina and was in Queens when the earthquake in Haiti occurred. Following her introductory volunteer mission with the Red Cross, she plans to continue as a volunteer and take advantage of Red Cross training courses. Marie-Ange reports that following an operation performed on the hospital ship, John Doe was transferred to an orphanage in Haiti operated by Mission of Hope. She never learned his real name.


  1. Thank you for job well done in Haiti.I always love Red cross for their commitment to alleviate, change,and bring hope in the life of everyone without any distinction. When I was growing up in Haiti my my mother made it a priority that i attended classes at red Cross on Saturdays,puericulture ect.I wanted to go help and no body got back to me for those who went hats off and i thank you for making a such of difference.
    Michele Pierre

  2. Marie-Ange, thank you for your love and care for John Doe. His name is now Job Jeramie. Your love, guidance, and care helped Job get started on the road to recovery. I am enclosing an e-mail sent out about him today, with links to sites like your own with more info re: Job. My e-mail address is, and you will find more info re: Job at
    Good Morning Everyone,
    These links lead to articles about Job, formally known as Johnny Doe. Job was found at the gates of Mission of Hope in late January, a few weeks after the earthquake. Someone had anonymously left him there. When we first think that someone could just dump a child, our thoughts are dark. But then we realize that as always, God is sovereign. The Father knew exactly where Job needed to go. He has received nourishment, excellent medical care, but most importantly he has been loved. His response to love has opened and warmed hearts and souls in Haiti and across North America. On March 29th, Job flew with Bill Neusch from Port au Prince to Austin, where he was immediately admitted to Dell Children’s Hospital. Job underwent many more procedures related to his skin graph over the eye that was removed, fighting infection, and being tested for TB and HIV. Job was there for 4 weeks, and always had someone staying with him. What a blessing he is to spend time with. The staff at Dell have gone above and beyond with their care. Last night Job was released from the hospital into a sponsor families home. Many tears of joy were being shed by the staff at Dell; Job has touched so many lives.

    Please join us in prayer for Job’s adjustment to his new life, his continued healing and future, and for God to provide the perfect family. God has answered so many prayers. He is faithful and true.

    Thank you to everyone for your prayers and care.


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