On January 12, 2010, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake rocked Guyvenson Fortune’s homeland of Haiti. Fortune, then 10 and living in poverty in Cite Soleil, Haiti, was one of the lucky survivors, along with his parents and siblings. And three years later, in 2013, he met the people who would change his life: Orono’s Jim and Paige Mohs.
The Mohses have made several mission trips to Haiti over the past decade, along with their four children. In August 2013, their mission organization asked if they would host some boys who were coming from Cite Soleil to play soccer in the Schwann’s Cup in Blaine, Minn. That’s when they met Fortune, who goes by Guy. Paige Mohs returned to Haiti on another mission trip the next month. In Cite Soleil, she asked about Guy and learned that he and some soccer teammates were living with their coach nearby, but they didn't have a chance to catch up.
When Mohs got home, she learned that one of her fellow host moms was working to help one of the soccer players return to the U.S., and was inspired to do something similar. She knew that life in Haiti, especially for those living in poverty, was extremely difficult and often dangerous, and wanted to give Guy an opportunity to attend school and live out his dreams in the U.S. So on November 12, 2013, three months after his first soccer home stay, Guy returned to live full-time with the Mohs family on an education visa. An adoption hadn’t been in their plans, Paige Mohs says, until they met Guy. “We thought we were headed toward the finish line of being empty nesters. But it just organically happened.” In August 2014, Guy’s adoption was finalized.
He spoke “zero English, but in his spare time he learned the language by attending classes at Wellstone School in Minneapolis,” Mohs says. “He’s a very determined young man.” Guy thrived at Orono High School; he was a co-captain of the varsity soccer team and was nominated by his classmates as a candidate for homecoming king. He also co-captained the varsity track team and was voted “most inspirational” by his classmates. After graduating from Orono, he enrolled in St. John’s University in Collegeville, and is still playing soccer.
The Mohs family have also started a Haiti-based nonprofit called Transformed Twelve. They’ve used it to help Guy's mom move to a safer area of Haiti and are doing other things to help better the lives of Haitians. “Because Haiti is a third-world country, life is really hard there,” says Guy, whose mother, father, and siblings are still in Haiti. “My parents did everything they could to provide for us, but it was not easy.”
What was his first impression of America? “I had no idea what it would be like; when I finally got the opportunity, it was kind of like a dream come true,” says Guy. Since coming to live in the U.S., he’s made three trips back to Haiti, bringing Orono students with him for week-long visits. “Some of them said it was a life-changing experience for them,” he says. He wants to do the same thing next summer, with as many of his St. John’s classmates as possible. One of his goals is to connect with students in Haiti to help them plan for their futures.
“Kids there think that, to have better lives, they need to come to the U.S. But coming to the U.S. is not the only answer. I tell them to get a good education, and that anything they think they can achieve in the U.S., they can achieve in Haiti,” he says. Guy’s own future plans are still unwritten. He’s thinking about a communications major and would like to help build a school in Haiti.