Two Grieving Fathers Help Rebuild Haiti in Their Deceased Children's Honor

In a country where cataracts and glaucoma routinely lead to blindness, eye surgery had never been performed at the hospital before Dougherty arrived. Patients waited for hours in a steaming hot hallway flanked by an open sewer to be examined.

"For me, it's been a once in every five or six years that I have a patient where I say, 'There is just nothing I can do for you,'" Dougherty said. "[In Haiti] I had patient, after patient, after patient, and it just broke my heart. It's one of the most challenging things I've ever done."

Dougherty's team is working with local doctors, hoping to teach them valuable skills, and has performed dozens of surgeries under tough conditions to give the blind back their sight.

Dougherty said he feels his son Andrew is constantly with him.

"I feel, in a sense, like I am also living my son's life," he said. "He only got to live five-and-a-half years, and I feel that part of what I'm doing is doing things that he might have done himself."

This Sunday is Fathers Day, a day on which children honor their fathers. But these two dads are honoring their kids instead by slowly working to fill that void.

"I look forward to coming back to Grand Goave to 'Be Like Brit,'" Gengel said. "And truly, the people of Haiti have helped us through this journey. So they have given me as much as I have given them."

Want to help? Here is a resources page with more information.

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