Lizzie Badger’s 1-year-old daughter, London, had been on the liver transplant list for four months when they finally got the call in January 2010 that the hospital found a donor match. London was born with a rare genetic disease that shut down her liver and kidneys, confining her to a hospital for the first months of her life.
The day after Lizzie got the call, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, killing more than 100,000 people, leveling homes and schools — and orphaning hundreds of thousands of children. Later that week, while Lizzie’s daughter was in surgery to receive her transplant, the news of the earthquake was announced across hospital televisions.
“I don’t think we would have been pushed to jump in if we hadn’t gone through our own personal crisis.” —Lizzie Badger
That’s when Lizzie’s heart, torn and damaged from months of uncertain medical news of her daughter, began to heal.
“There we were, in a beautiful, state-of-the-art hospital, seeing people in Haiti die and suffer from things that could be easily treated here,” Lizzie says. “Even though our own suffering was great, this news cracked open my world to see how greatly others suffer.”
While some of their friends traveled to Haiti right away to build an orphanage, James and Lizzie stayed home to help their daughter recover from surgery. But over the next few years, they took their turn serving in Haiti.
Between the two of them, they have returned to the Caribbean country 14 times — initially to help build the orphanage, Foyer de Sion, and later to promote education for the 500 children and teenagers housed there.
Lizzie, now living in Draper, focuses most of her efforts on ensuring the orphanage has enough food, water and clothing, but on several occasions, she has gone the extra mile to provide more than the basics. In four instances, she has brought groups of volunteers from across Utah Valley to Foyer de Sion so they could play, do art projects and dance with the orphans and kids in the village. When Lizzie and the volunteers aren’t there, the Haitian orphanage directors continue the work.
“Americans would walk into the orphanage and turn their noses up, but everyone I’ve met there is doing the best they can with what they have,” Lizzie says.
Now a mother of two, Lizzie has changed these orphans’ lives, and in turn, they have healed her heart. The physical scar that her daughter now bears reminds Lizzie how far they’ve come since her daughter’s transplant and her own first step into serving the orphans of Haiti.
“Everyone has scars, whether they’re emotional, physical or psychological,” Lizzie says. “And there’s not a child in the orphanage who doesn’t have some type of scar. It shows how resilient and beautiful they are.”