Family adopts Haitian boy and continue to help his country

Family adopts Haitian boy and continue to help his country

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by Maggie O'Mara

Bio | Email | Follow: @maggiektvb7

KTVB.COM

Posted on March 18, 2012 at 10:37 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 20 at 8:01 AM

NAMPA -- A Nampa man is dedicated to changing things in a Haitian town.  It is a cause that is close to his heart because that is where his son comes from.

Steven Swihart has a passion for helping others.

"My first trip ever to Haiti I was in the Coast Guard.  This was back 20 years ago, and I've always wanted to go back since," said Steven.

He has been back, several times now on humanitarian missions volunteering as a nurse.

On one of those trips, Steven met 5-year-old Jeremiah, who would change his life forever.  Jeremiah is now the Swihart family's newest addition.

Jeremiah is from in the town of Maissade, Haiti. 

"Mostly dirty streets, a lot of poverty.  One bed for four, five, six, eight people to sleep on," Steven described.

Jeremiah's family knew he'd have a better life in the United States.

"They actually asked us when I was there if we could adopt him," said Steven.

Steven jumped at the chance to make him part of their family in Idaho.  The adoption was finalized in 2010.

Now, Steven is dedicated to making Jeremiah's hometown a better place to live.

In February, Steven, two of his fellow nurses, and his 15 year old daughter May, went on a mission to Haiti to bring clean water to Maissade.

"Clean water is something we all take for granted," said Steven.

Before they left, they raised money for the cause from all over the country.  Between fundraisers, concerts, and an auction of a BSU football, $25,000 dollars was raised.

The group brought 50 bucket filters to Maissade, in order to get the people there clean water.
 
"I have some pictures of me taking it from the river and filtering it and drinking it, and being told basically that I was crazy by the people around me," said Steven.

This was May's first trip to Haiti with her dad.

"I decided to go because of my little brother," said May.  "I love him so much."

"No one knows how lucky we are just to have our basic needs met every day," May said.

She saw the difference they could make in a such a short time, and she met Jeremiah's family.  It was an emotional experience for her.

"You break down like I did, several times when I was there.  It really is life changing just to be able to help," she explained.

Here in Idaho, Jeremiah has his own room and everything a little boy could need or want.

But he still misses his other family -

"I also want to go back to Haiti," said Jeremiah.  "I just want to see my little brother Kinchi."

The Swiharts plan to keep that connection alive for him.

There is about $15,000 left over in the fund, and that will be used for building a town water system.

If you want to read more about Steven Swihart's goals for clean water in Haiti or get involved yourself, check out his blog.

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