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Suzanne and some of her toothbrushes.

brush to a child who has never had one? Whatever tears were provoked by the prick of the tuberculin test evaporated as each child received his prize, along with a simple message—“Pou prevni maladi dan pike, bwose dan-w chak jou” (“To prevent cavities, brush your teeth every day”). In secret I reflected on the irony. My own daughter following in Régis’s footsteps. She was 17 at the time.

We stayed for mass after Suzanne distributed the toothbrushes. Père Luc conducted the service in French, with the children singing a capella in Creole, accompanied only by homemade tambours. Perhaps the French and African heritages of Haiti could live in harmony after all, I thought. Suzanne later played her flute, accompanied by the boys with the tambours.

As we were preparing to leave, chatting with Père Luc and Frère Charles, four figures caught my eye. Even while they were still in my peripheral vision, their significance registered instantly. My eyes flashed to them and then to Suzanne. She also knew.

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