In the Newsroom

March 2, 2010
A young orphan in Haiti steals a volunteer’s heart

Sonson with sunglasses. Photo: Tamara Palinkat

Worldfocus associate producer Mohammad Al-Kassim spent five days in the Haitian capital one month after the devastating earthquake hit the impoverished Caribbean island. While he was at the University of Miami field hospital, he came across the story of Sonson, a young orphan.

Sonson is a Haitian boy who was found in a garbage dumpster two weeks after a calamitous earthquake hit his hometown of Port-au-Prince.

Salvation Army workers found Sonson and brought him to the University of Miami medical field hospital located near the airport in the Haitian capital. Doctors there treated Sonson for worms, bacteria, and superficial cuts on his foot. Despite the awful conditions he was found in, Sonson is in fairly good shape physically according to medical personnel.

No one seems to know the whereabouts of his parents or even his real age, which nurses at the hospital estimate  at about two or three. He is scheduled to undergo a hand x-ray soon to determine age by his bone development.

Sonson has a big following here; he’s especially popular with the ladies.

Tamara Palinkat, 38-year-old Canadian volunteer with the University of Miami’s Project Medishare, is in Port-au-Prince helping with the earthquake recovery efforts. She says that she took an immediate liking to Sonson, drawn to his survival instinct.

“The idea that this little fella was fending for himself at the age of 2 or 3 years old pulled at my heart strings,” said Tamara.

Tamara has no children of her own but says that she always knew that one day “a child would adopt me and that would be that.” She wants Sonson to be that child.

She has started the adoption paperwork process, registering Sonson as an unaccompanied child with UNICEF and making known her desire to adopt him. She also wrote a letter requesting approval from the Canadian Embassy.

Sonson feeds Tamara. Photo: Tamara Palinkat

Tamara is busy with her volunteer work but says she is spending as much time with Sonson as she can. Her face lights up when she talks about him.

According to Tamara, the little boy doesn’t have nightmares but does spend a lot of time lost in thought, staring in one direction for a long time as if reliving past events. Tamara says Sonson was very withdrawn at first but has slowly been coming out of his shell.

In the short time they have known each other, Sonson has become the center of Tamara’s world. She doesn’t know yet if her adoption bid for Sonson will be successful — for now, she is focusing on her volunteer work and staying hopeful.

– Mohammad Al-Kassim




What a wonderful story. I wish there were more people in the world like Tamara. I am keeping them both in my prayers that the adoption is successful!!


i’m with glen


It has been proven that the best way to limit family size is to provide more advanced education for the women, followed by occupational opportunity. When a woman is not economically dependent upon the man she will refuse to be a breed mare.


Well sterilization is an option education first then if they have good sense the will opt for sterilization and it should be for the men first! we here in the USA see first hand the lack of good sense with women have three plus different men (if you want to call them that)as fathers (NO SENSE HERE)


Glen, perhaps free or rewarded sterilization after a few kids, but mandatory ?
These are poor black people not dog and cats, or don’t you see them as people at all ?


Glen, the difference is that WE do it TO THEM (cats & dogs). People, as opposed to dogs and cats, are assumed to be autonomous (would you have a sterilization-board decide & by what criteria). A more constructive approach may be to try to empower those people by allowing them to be informed and choose whether or not they want a baby by virtue of, GASP, contraceptives.


The average family in Haiti has 10 kids??!! And many were abandoned by their parent(s) after the earthquake?? Mandatory sterilization is the answer.

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