Before 20-year-old Madelene ("Maddy") Caruso went to Haiti for the first time in 2012 as part of a Mission Education Encounter Team (MEET), she "envisioned [herself] changing all of these lives." When she returned, she realized the life that had really changed was her own.
"Haiti and all of the amazing people we witnessed and met impacted my life more than I can thank and has changed me forever,'" she says.
Maddy returned to Haiti again in 2013 as part of another MEET with her church, Cornerstone Church in Marion, Illinois. On both trips she went with her father, Frank Caruso, who first introduced Maddy to, and subsequently helped her get involved with, International Child Care (ICC).
Frank's first encounter with ICC was back in the late 70's when he went on a church mission trip with Hillcrest United Methodist Church in Elkhart, Indiana. Although Frank admits he was "completely clueless to the rest of the world," he remembers his experience with an extremely malnourished child in the inpatient ward named Guelma.
"He had a brilliant smile and a heart full of love," he says.
As Frank got older, and grew closer to his faith, he became dedicated to ICC's mission: "To respond to a loving God by promoting health and well-being for the children and families of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through caring service and the education of others."
Following in her father's footsteps, Maddy has developed a passion for ICC. A sophomore nursing major at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, it was Maddy's experience with ICC that "set a firm foundation" in choosing her career path.
"Going to Grace Children's Hospital, and seeing how amazing those nurses were and how much their faces lit up just holding the children, made me realize that that's who I want to be someday," said Maddy. "I have so much respect and love for the nurses there. I can only hope to one day be the kind of woman who amounts to them."
In addition to inspiring her nursing career, Maddy says her experiences in Haiti have helped change her life outlook.
"I've learned to be more thankful for what I do and don't have," she says. "And to thank God every day, no matter what, struggle or victory."
Once she graduates and adds some work experience to her resume, Maddy plans to return to Haiti and work with Grace Children's Hospital.
"Every day I go to class I know it's one day closer to coming back," she says. "Thank you ICC for allowing me to come [to Haiti]."
Maddy, like so many other ICC supporters, has found herself transformed by witnessing the mission of ICC at work in Haiti. We invite you to be transformed and join us on a Mission Education Encounter to Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Click to learn more.