We, Emma Hall, Brooke Ely, and I, Blair Ely, are the founders of the Be Happy Haiti, a not-for-profit 501c(3) organization devoted to helping Haiti help themselves, building community, and spreading smiles. Before this mission became a reality, however, it was a dream inspired by a simple smile.
Our initial involvement with Haiti was sparked by the earthquake in 2010 as we accompanied the Cathedral of the Incarnation’s Medical Mission to La Vallee, Haiti, the sister parish of the Nashville Diocese. We were shocked at the devastation in Haiti, but what touched us was something that isn’t captured in a photo of a crumbling building or a mourning Haitian—it is the spirit of Haiti and the love of the community that makes la Vallee, above all tragedy, a beautiful and very special place. We were so in love with the people there and the inspiration we received that we decided to come back again the next year, and the next, and the next after that.
While there we would continue to vaccinate the children of La Vallee and grow closer to the community, getting to know what the core issues were and possible solutions they desired. When playing with children, getting smothered with hugs and bombarded with laughter, we couldn’t help but notice the state of their teeth. The people of Haiti love to celebrate life, even in tragedy, they smile on and show the world they don’t need anything but love. Those same smiles became a concern as we began to notice blackened teeth, infected sores, and gaping holes.
We know that tooth decay is not only a blemish to their beautiful smiles but also causes severe pain, inability to eat, and possible death by infection.
Every week, twice a week, two Haitian dentists and a nurse provide dental care for the community of La Vallee or anyone who visits (we have treated thousands of La Vallee residents as well as hundreds from neighboring cities as far as Port Au Prince who have heard of the Be Happy Haiti success) No one is ever turned away for not having money and unlike most volunteer run, temporary dental programs, we fill cavities and seal teeth from getting them in the first place by reaching the young children before they have dental issues. Today Novendi smiles brightly thanks to people just like you who have donated or partnered with Be Happy Haiti to help make it a success.