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Seychelles connection helps dream come true

Barlow Buescher, Karen Johnston, Lise Church and Trevor Renaud enjoy the sunshine during a fundraiser for the Friends of the Seychelles organization last weekend. Renaud, a Seychelles citizen, has been staying with Buescher and Johnston while studying to become a paramedic. He will return to the Seychelles later this year. - Margo Hoffman/The Mirror
Barlow Buescher, Karen Johnston, Lise Church and Trevor Renaud enjoy the sunshine during a fundraiser for the Friends of the Seychelles organization last weekend. Renaud, a Seychelles citizen, has been staying with Buescher and Johnston while studying to become a paramedic. He will return to the Seychelles later this year.
— image credit: Margo Hoffman/The Mirror

FW woman is lone link between U.S. and island nation

Trevor Renaud, 25, has benefited from many second chances.

Born prematurely and with a heart condition in the tiny nation of the Republic of Seychelles, Renaud faced difficulty getting medical care for his condition. Through a cooperation between the Seychelles and Italian governments, Renaud was able to get medical care at a hospital in Rome.

Seychelles is a nation of nearly 100 islands and about 85,000 people located off the eastern coast of Africa, north of Madagascar.

When the cooperation between the Seychelles and Italian governments ended, Renaud found the support he needed from the Red Cross Society of Seychelles. He endured a number of surgeries throughout his youth. Despite excessive absences, he finished high school and began training to become a paramedic.

Then Renaud suffered a relapse and was called away from his paramedic training to undergo surgery. There were complications and he was hospitalized for more than seven months. He was forced to drop out of his paramedic training. The Republic of Seychelles would not offer paramedic training again for another five years. In addition to a heart condition, Renaud suffered from the painful realization that his dreams of becoming a paramedic were shattered.

Renaud was then offered another second chance — this time from a woman across the world in Federal Way.

Lise Church is a Federal Way resident and U.S. consul general for the Republic of Seychelles. Each year through her Friends of the Seychelles organization, Church raises money and collects donations to benefit an orphanage in Seychelles. She is the lone link and representative between the two countries.

On one of her trips to Seychelles, Renaud’s family saw Church on TV. Renaud contacted her and asked for help.

“Who could have turned down his letter,” Church said. “It is such a good example for other young people who have a disability so that they don’t give up.”

Church negotiated with the U.S. and Seychelles governments for Renaud to continue his paramedic training in the United States. He earned a scholarship to Pierce College and has been staying with a host family for the past two months while he attends school. He will return to Seychelles in December and begin work as a paramedic.

Studying in the United States offered Renaud an advantage over students who graduate from the program in Seychelles, he said, adding that the courses at Pierce College are more intensive than those taught in his homeland.

Renaud is just one of hundreds of Seychelles citizens who have benefited from Church’s efforts over the years. Each year, she fills a shipping container with items to ship to the St. Elizabeth’s Orphanage and Convalescent in Seychelles. This year, she is collecting Christmas gifts including toys, puzzles, books, school supplies, children’s clothing, toiletries and hard candy.

“The items don’t have to be new as long as it’s clean and good. We’re not fussy,” she said.

Church encourages people to donate cash and items for the children. She raises most of her money and donations through word of mouth.

Contact Margo Hoffman: mhoffman@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

To learn more or to donate to the Friends of the Seychelles, e-mail lisechurch@comcast.net or call (253) 874-4579.

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