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E. Benjamin Skinner
I was in Haiti in October 2005 researching my book on modern-day slavery when I contracted a severe case of malaria. A young Haitian man named Bill Nathan, then 21, who manages a shelter for homeless boys in Port-au-Prince, took me in and attended to me daily as I lapsed in and out of consciousness. He found the chloroquine that kept me alive.
When the epic earthquake struck Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010, I saw a chance to repay the debt.
At 4:51 p.m. that day, Bill was on the seventh-floor garden on the roof of the Maison St. Joseph, a sanctuary of peace for some 20 boys who were either abandoned by their families or were child slaves, like Bill had once been. He had just ushered five of the boys down to their chores on the ground floor so that he could enjoy his one daily indulgence: a few moments of solitude in the garden's little gazebo, which was surrounded by potted plants, before the evening prayers.
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