Rodney Leveille, born in Haiti, was left in the trash when he was just 7 days old. But, like many orphans in Haiti, he’s overcome the odds and is now a community activist in his native land
(Third in a series)
By all accounts, Rodney Leveille is not supposed to be here today. Born to a 17-year-old unwed teen mother in Delmas, Haiti, there was little hope. In 1988, conditions in the town, located adjacent to the crowded, struggling capital of Port-au-Prince, were dire and even more so for families overburdened because of lack of resources.
The young mother would make a decision that would forever alter the course of her son’s life. She wrapped her 7-day-old son in a blanket, pinned his picture and birth certificate to his chest and left him in the trash. A group of Americans discovered the baby and took him to a local orphanage.
The years that followed were marked with stays at violent youth homes, lengthy stints of homelessness and extreme hunger. Although alone on the streets, Leveille knew his future path was not crime. “There are many things on the street that can you lead you into crime—especially for children,” he said. “Adults will take advantage of you. Sometimes you have to kill to eat. That is what life is like for orphans in Haiti. When you’re out there you have to do something to survive.”
At 9 years old, he was homeless, begging for money and wiping windshields on the streets in Delmas to survive day to day. He vowed that when he grew up he would do something to change the lives for other children who were faced with the same tough trials.