On Sunday, December 6, 2009, Guesno and Majorie Mardy, members of the Fontamara Ward outside Port-au-Prince, took their six children to church as usual. That day, however, their youngest son, two-year-old Gardy, refused to leave Guesno’s side. “I had to teach classes and administer meetings,” Guesno recalled later, “and he just hung on to my neck, holding me as tightly as possible.”
After the meetings, Guesno sent Gardy to find his mother while he attended to some business. That was the last time anyone in the Mardy family saw Gardy. In just a few minutes, Gardy was abducted by a gang of human traffickers. In the weeks that followed, Guesno did not sleep but walked the streets of Port-au-Prince, hoping to hear Gardy cry out to him.
Just five weeks after Gardy’s abduction, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated the area. More than 200,000 were killed, and thousands of children were orphaned. The orphan home Guesno and Majorie operated survived the quake, but the building housing their administrative offices collapsed. In the aftermath, the investigation into Gardy’s abduction halted, and all leads evaporated. As they helped to clear the rubble, buried loved ones, and took newly orphaned children into their care, Guesno and Majorie, however, did not abandon hope of finding Gardy. “We prayed every day. It was one of the moments when we had to seek God,” Guesno said. “I have read the scripture and I have understood that the … disciples of God—they have been through trials, they have suffered.”
Eventually, Guesno found information about an orphanage operating as a front for human trafficking where he believed Gardy might be. He passed this information to Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a nonprofit organization dedicated to freeing children from human trafficking that had pledged to help find Gardy. Working with Haitian authorities, OUR infiltrated the orphanage, arrested the operators, and freed 28 children from the traffickers.
During the operation, Guesno waited in the lobby of a nearby hotel awaiting news. “I was praying very hard that a happy ending could come,” Guesno said. That evening when OUR founder Timothy Ballard arrived at the hotel alone, Guesno knew Gardy had not been found. Guesno wept. After a few moments, he slapped the table.
“But you rescued the twenty-eight kids, right?’ he asked.
“Yes. Of course,” Ballard responded.
“Don’t you see what happened?” Guesno asked. “If I have to give up my son so that these twenty-eight kids can be set free,” he explained, “I will make that sacrifice.”
Although Gardy remains missing, Guesno and Majorie continue to search for him and to work to eradicate child slavery in Haiti. “I feel that it is my duty to get him back,” Guesno said. “I’ll find him. One day something will happen, and I’ll find him.”