[Book Review] I Came From the Water: One Haitian Boy's Incredible Tale of Survival by Vanita Oelschlager

I Came From the Water is a tale of survival and strength of human spirit despite repeated tragedy and overwhelming odds. It comes from Haiti, but has a universal message and appeal.

The story is based on the actual experiences of Moses, an eight year-old boy and resident of St. Helene’s orphanage outside Port-au-Prince. As an infant, he was literally plucked from the waters of a nearby river, having been placed in a basket by whom we believe was his grandmother. The rest of his family perished in floods that wiped out their upland village in 2004. He was given his name by the nuns at St. Helene’s. The title is Moses’ reply to the author when she asked where he is from.

After the earthquake of 2010 destroyed Port-au-Prince and much of the surrounding area, the orphanage was flooded with a new wave of parentless boys and girls. Moses helped these children adapt to their new lives and in so doing displays a fearless hope and determination that may lead to Haiti’s renewal as a self-supporting nation.

St. Helene’s orphanage is run by Father Rick Frechette known globally for his dedication to improving the lives of poor children across Latin America.

Net profits from I Came From the Water will go to support St. Helene’s and Father Rick’s efforts to help rebuild Haiti by offering a safe place to live and a free education for children like Moses. (vanitabooks.com)

A copy of this book was provided
free via Netgalley in exchange
for an honest review.
I Came from the Water is the purportedly true story of an orphaned boy named Moses whom the author met in Haiti. The art style is appealing and while the story evolves in a very "this happened, then this happened, then this happened" sort of way, it very much comes across as how a child might explain their life story to an interested stranger.

The book definitely has a religious presence, as it focuses on a child under the care of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, a Christian organization whose mission is "to provide shelter, food, clothing, healthcare and education in a Christian family environment based on unconditional acceptance and love, sharing, working and responsibility", so readers who want to avoid religious elements might want to give this one a pass. I, however, wasn't particularly bothered in this case... though I must admit that the term "Christian family environment" leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

Anyway, it's a perfectly readable story and the profits are apparently going to support for orphans and "efforts to help rebuild Haiti", so it should at the very least be an interesting way to introduce a child to the country of Haiti itself and the reality the world's less fortunate children.

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