Haiti: God answers the simple prayers of a child

How a box of cereal has been a symbol of hope after the earthquake in Haiti.
  • By: Rebekah Malbrecht
A girl smiles at the camera while holding a box of cereal

“I told you God would answer my prayers,” six-year-old Soraya said as she quickly looked through the emergency food box in front of her. Three days after a devastating 7.2 earthquake hit southwestern Haiti on Saturday, August 14, Soraya told her grandmother Ana she had prayed for God to provide her favorite food. To Ana’s surprise, God answered Soraya’s prayer.

“After the earthquake, our house was completely destroyed. It was no longer safe to live there,” Ana said. She has raised her young granddaughter alone since Soraya’s parents passed away. “Soraya and I were at the church at the time of the earthquake, so we were safe, but we weren’t able to get any of our belongings, including food to eat. That is when Soraya told me that she had prayed to God for a box of cornflakes, her favorite cereal. I was amazed to see that prayer become a reality.”

A girl lifts a box of cereal out of a package

At the right place at the right time

Ana and Soraya were extremely thankful that during the earthquake they were at the church for Soraya’s regular Compassion centre activities. When the quake hit, the building’s walls stayed standing. However, they arrived home to a devastating sight. The walls of their home in Cavaillon, a hard-hit region, had collapsed. It was uninhabitable. With aftershocks a real threat, and their house weak and unstable, it was too dangerous for the granddaughter and grandmother to go inside their home.

Girl in blue top and red pants sits on a pile of rubble

They returned to the Compassion centre to seek help from the pastor and the staff. “The pastor didn’t hesitate to offer us temporary shelter on the church grounds,” Ana said. “He has been supervising the efforts to support us and others who also lost their homes with temporary shelter at the church.” This shelter meant that Soraya and Ana didn’t have to sleep on the streets or look for a crowded government-run shelter, which could place the safety of a little girl and older woman at risk.

MORE: Read the latest updates from Haiti on our 2021 Haiti Earthquake Updates blog.

When help arrived

Soraya spent the three days after the earthquake at the church grounds with her grandmother, washing clothes and trying to keep their minds off the traumatic event and losing their home. She had quickly memorized the faces of the other families staying at the church grounds and the church staff. When she saw an unfamiliar vehicle arrive, she immediately ran to greet the strangers.

“Did you come to rebuild my house?” she asked.

A girl in a blue top stands in front of rubble and holds out her hand

After that unexpected greeting to the staff, Soraya immediately started a conversation with them. She wanted to know what the purpose of their visit was. The group was a delegation from Compassion Haiti’s National Office in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. They explained they were sent to help her, and other children like her, and to see the damage the earthquake had caused. Like her community, some of the areas are so remote the team had to drive for six hours to reach them. Soraya showed the staff where she and her grandmother were sleeping. She also led them to the remains of her home.

Soraya’s simple prayer

“Despite everything that happened with our house, Soraya still keeps finding reasons to smile and not lose hope,” Ana said.

A young girl stands behind her grandmother and kisses her cheek

One of the things the little girl has learned through Compassion’s program is that when she has a need, she can pray to God. And that is what Soraya did. “I asked God to send us my favorite cereal,” Soraya said. “And when I ended my prayer I said, ‘Jesus will send me cornflakes, Grandma, wait and see’.”

“I was surprised to see how Soraya’s prayers were answered through a box of cereal,” Ana said. “She understands the power of prayer.”

A man in a red shirt carries a box of food to a small group of people

Compassion Haiti staff delivering Soraya’s emergency food pack

After the Compassion team assessed the need and strategized with the pastor and local leaders on the best approach to support the most vulnerable families and children, they went to their trucks and started unloading boxes of emergency food for the families affected by the earthquake. As Soraya opened the box of food, she smiled at her grandmother. Holding out the big red box of cornflakes, she told her grandmother, “I told you God would answer my prayers.”

Hope to hold on to

This box of cereal has been a beacon of hope in a time when life has been completely upended. This answered prayer is a lifeline for the long road of heartache and recovery ahead for Soraya and Ana, their community and much of Haiti. For Soraya and her grandmother, this cereal box has been a reminder that God sees and hears them and that the Church loves them.

A girl smiles at the camera while holding a box of cereal

The devastating effects of the earthquake have children, their families and communities facing incredible stress, uncertainty and grief. The road ahead is a long one. But in the midst of it, someone made a donation to Compassion which provided a red box of cornflakes to a little girl who had prayed for it. God used someone’s faithful generosity to answer the prayers of a little girl facing tragedy and give her hope.


Help meet urgent needs with Compassion’s Haiti Disaster Relief Fund.

Your donation is a lifeline of hope.



Photos and field reporting by Erick Jura