Haiti Native and Winchester High School Senior Ephesien Simpson's Inspiring Tale Justifiably, much of the focus in the days since Haiti suffered has been on the parentless. Innocents left alone by the chaos have tested already crowded orphanages. And imagine, for a moment, what the days are like for the forgotten in the hemisphere’s poorest nation.

There is a local athlete who knew this existence first hand.

Ephesien Simpson is an outgoing senior on the Winchester High hoop team. He comes across as one of the friendliest and most fearless young men you’ll ever meet, and it makes sense. He has a perspective on life few will ever know.

“Whenever I get something new — a pair of soccer cleats or sneakers, or [when] I open the refrigerator — I picture how I was in the past,” he says in surprisingly remarkable English for someone who thinks in French. “We never got to drive anywhere, or have ice cream or cell phones. We had what we had, and we made the best of it. I lived for that day because I did not know if there would be another.”

Ephesien lost his mother when he was only 3. His father could not care for both of his children by himself, so he left his eldest son in the care of the orphanage. It’s where the son stayed until he was nearly 16 years old.

“I grew up hearing people shooting each other in the streets,” he says. “Because our orphanage was helped by Americans, people would bang on the gates saying they want money or they would kill everyone.”

Fortunately, the Americans who supported the orphanage included Doug and Neilani Simpson. The young couple, already foster parents, was considering adoption when they began volunteering.

“You walk through the gates and you’ve got 60 kids all coming at you to hug you and kiss you and say hello,” recalls Neilani.

Even amid the wave of children, “Ephesien was a pretty outgoing guy. He definitely didn’t blend into the woodwork.

“[Under] U.S. law … the children have to be under the age of 16," she said. "He was turning 16 in January and this was October. [We were] his last shot at being adopted.”

“In a way that day is the joy of my life,” says Ephesien. “On the other hand, I was very sad to leave my friends, the people I was raised with. Haiti is still my homeland.”

A few months later, in July 2006, the Simpsons took Ephesien and another boy named Paul back home to Massachusetts. Ephesien has spent the years since starring on the soccer and hoop teams, which he was adept at after years of playing barefoot on concrete with makeshift balls like water bottles and rolled up T-shirts. He has a cell phone now, something he never thought he’d own, and aspires to start college in the fall.

“I want to study international business,” he explains. “I want to continue my education, go back to Haiti and teach them how to create jobs. If the people have jobs they will not fight each other.”

He also says that one day, when he is older and settled, he would also like to adopt children in need.

“God took me out of it and put me in this country where I have better opportunity," he said. "I want to do the same for somebody else.”

Says Doug, “We hope that as the future goes on and our kids mature and they look back on things they’ll realize that they can do the same thing. They’ll have more to give now that they have been given.”


The Simpsons understand the outpouring of emotion toward Haiti, but they don’t recommend taking part in illegal human trafficking. For those who want to help, they recommend simply getting involved with one of the many reputable organizations in the area. For example, their church group is involved in an organization called Hope for the Children of Haiti.

“The scale of everything is so big, it’s hard to fathom how I could make a difference,” says Doug. “The way we were able to do it was to join an organization, go down, meet the kids, make a difference in just a few lives. If a thousand people do that, we would have a made a difference to that many thousands."