For more than two years, Jeremy and Hollie Wardle have waited patiently to bring home their adopted daughter from Haiti.
Now, they are in a race against time.
"The orphanage is running out of food, water, supplies," said Hollie Wardle.
The North Salt Lake couple got the call Tuesday morning that 7-year-old Gabrielle — who was supposed to be united with the Wardles this month — was safe. She is in an orphanage called Crèche Enfant Jesus in Lamardelle, Haiti, several miles outside of Port-au-Prince.
Thursday night, the woman who heads the orphanage, Gina Duncan, called the Wardles again with an idea.
"She said 'Please, we need help. We've got two days left of milk for the babies. … Everything we have won't last past next Wednesday,' " said Jeremy Wardle.
Duncan is able to get phone reception at her home in the Haitian mountains. Her plan, explained Hollie Wardle, is to arrange for a helicopter and pilot in Puerto Rico who could then fly to the Dominican Republic, pick up fuel and supplies, then make cargo trips back and forth to the orphanage by landing in the open fields nearby.
"It's a specific helicopter, the Robinson R44 that can do it," Hollie Wardle said. "What they need is the money to pay for it."
Duncan is Haiti's Mother Teresa of sorts. Duncan has devoted much of the past decade to rescuing orphaned or abandoned children and recently started a new orphanage for babies with HIV/AIDS.
She has a unique relationship with Utahns, dating back to 1998, when a team of doctors and nurses from LDS Hospital organized a medical mission to Haiti.
"We would have been dead in the water if it weren't for Gina," said Dr. Jeff Randle, who 12 years ago founded Healing Hands for Haiti.
"The hospital in Haiti we were going to help that first trip was supported by a fundamentalist church, and here we were a medical team from LDS Hospital. They didn't want Mormons coming. We were stuck," he said.
Duncan intervened on behalf of the Utah doctors.
"Gina was working at the hospital and went to bat for us," Randle said. "She didn't know us, but she could sense what we were about. She made it happen."
That first trip by Randle and his colleagues blossomed into full-blown rehabilitation clinic that has helped thousands of Haitians over the past decade.
Now, the woman who "made it happen" is in need of rescue.
"We've got to do whatever we can," Randle said.
The Wardles, too, hope that help will come, not only for their daughter, but for the Haitian people who, for them, have become like family.
"Our hearts are breaking," Jeremy Wardle said.2 comments on this story
Gabrielle will be their sixth child, and the third the couple has adopted from Haiti In 2008, the Wardles adopted 5-year-old Robens and 3-year-old Nyah, who are brother and sister.
The Wardles were able to meet the children's birth mother, who, with pleading eyes, asked them to care for the babies she could not, in a country that was in survival mode long before the earthquake.
"We told her, 'You will always be their mother You will always be sacred in our home.' " recalled Jeremy Wardle.
It's a home that can't wait for one more.
"We just want Gabby in our arms," he said.