Boy Sings Primary Songs until Rescued in Haiti
by Jennifer Samuels
Five-year-old Gancci Saintelus jumped up and down with excitement when his mother, Soline, three-year-old sister, Angie, and one-year-old brother, Gansly, walked into his hospital room at the Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami, Florida, on Thursday, January 21st. During the reunion, Soline cried and held her son, while Angie asked where her brother’s arm was. The family was separated seven days ago when Gancci and his dad, Olgan, left their devastated country of Haiti behind to save Gancci’s life.The Saintelus family reunion was heartwarming and their story is quite miraculous.
When the earthquake struck Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, Olgan was working at the Holiday Inn and Soline was at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Centrale chapel meeting with the bishop about a new church calling. Both parents were unharmed and went to check on their three children at home who where staying with a caretaker. They found their three-story apartment complex had collapsed.
“We thought our children had died,” remembered Olgan. “I kept praying to Heavenly Father to help us find our children.”
It took ten hours to dig their children out of the rubble. Their oldest son, Gancci, was singing primary songs that could be heard by rescue workers trying to dig him out. The Saintelus children and caretaker were the only survivors found in the collapsed building.
Gancci had the most serious injuries and needed medical attention right away. Olgan left his wife and two children at the church building and went searching for help for his son.
“I went to the hospital but they told me to wait outside,” Olgan recalled. “Many people were waiting to be helped.”
Olgan decided to take his son to his workplace at the Holiday Inn. He pleaded with people he met in the hallways of the hotel to help him.
“I kept praying for someone to help my son,” Olgan said.
After another twelve hours passed by, he met Mark Eisaman, a former EMT from South Florida who had come on his own to Haiti to help. Eisaman enlisted the help from a British search and rescue team and got Olgan and Gancci on a flight to Miami.
In Miami, Gancci’s right arm had to be amputated, but his life was saved. Eisaman stayed by Olgan’s side and once Gancci started to recover, Eisaman made it his mission to go back and get the rest of the Saintelus family out of Haiti. He said he didn’t want the family to be separated after this disaster.
“I went in there [Haiti] and got the family out,” said Eisaman, who didn’t want to disclose details about the trip.
The Saintelus family reunion was joyful despite all they had been through. They are worried about their extended family and friends in Haiti but believe their faith will help them endure. Church members of their new ward and stake in Miami have come by to welcome them and have brought in clothes, food, toys, diapers and other needed supplies to the family who are staying temporarily in a facility close to the hospital.
“I’m so grateful to my church,” said Olgan with tears in his eyes.
Olgan and Soline have been LDS members for over 10 years now. They both have served missions in Haiti and are temple workers. Although they can’t predict what the future will bring, they are happy that their family is together alive and safe.
Our prayers and thoughts are with the Haitian people.