Last Updated: Monday, March 20, 2017, 7:19 AM EDT
Foster kids can face some tough challenges early in life.
But one former local foster child, an Everyday Hero, is using those challenges to help other children in Central Florida and around the world.
Eveline Joachim says when she was just 7 years old, her mother moved back to Haiti and left her and siblings to fend for themselves.
“It was definitely a sense of loneliness and feeling abandoned,” says Joachim.
After years and years of bouncing around from foster home to foster home, Joachim eventually found her way.
“Feeling like if I act up 'we’re sending you home kind of thing,' that was just my mindset,” says Joachim. “But around middle school is when I got my act together and realized my mother is not coming home.”
When she turned 18, Joachim went to Haiti to find her biological parents. And she came back with a new perspective.
“Though my situation wasn’t that great here, going there made me grateful that I was in the system here versus being an orphan in Haiti, and that’s what gave me the compassion to say whatever I can do to give back to this community and help, I’ll do it,” says Joachim.
Joachim began going on regular mission trips to Haiti. After participating in the AmeriCorps program Public Allies Central Florida, she formed the nonprofit Pathway to Hope.
She gets donations from all over Central Florida, gathers them in a storage unit near her home in Parramore and delivers them to children in Haiti each time she travels there.
“We have a box full of little trucks, we a little bit of everything, we have book bags donated from the Faine House,” says Joachim.
“I visited an orphanage there and I fell in love with the children,” she explained.
Now 26, Joachim counsels local foster children who are dealing with some of the same issues she dealt with. And she’s bringing some of them with her on her journey when she travels to Haiti.
“That was my dream even though I didn’t think it was going to happen,” says Joachim.
Here are additional Pathway to Hope sites for more information: