FT. MYERS, Fla. — The Gabriel Home is like any other house full of kids: toys and clothes everywhere, a "Barney" video on TV, little ones underfoot.
In all, Ed and Annie Ravish care for 28 children, many disabled and nearly half rescued from Haiti.
The youngsters range in age from 18 months to 16 years. The latest additions are two 4-year-olds. Juliette is blind and Esnel weighed just 10 pounds and couldn't lift his head when he arrived in October.
"If we didn't do it, they'd die," Annie Ravish said.
Doctors in the Caribbean island nation must certify the children have medical needs that can't be met there. Local doctors treat them free.
The couple, with 10 of their own children, live in a nine-bedroom house. Five horses, four cats, three dogs, a pair of iguanas, a bird and a goat round out the family.
A tour finds two little girls in blue dresses toddling about. Six cribs line the walls of the front room, where two youngsters are receiving physical therapy. Outside, another four or so build a fort.
"It keeps us busy," said Ed Ravish, 60.
Ties with Haiti began when they learned two years ago that an orphanage could no longer care for Nadege, a blind girl the Ravishes had been sponsoring.
"So I said, 'I'm going to get her,' " Annie Ravish said.
She arrived in Haiti just before the coup that deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and was trapped for a month.
"I didn't know whether she was alive or dead for the first week," Ed Ravish said.
Annie Ravish, 43, hid in an orphanage. Trained as a midwife, she delivered five babies, picked up a few words of Creole and made some friends.
"I was never afraid of the Haitian people," she said. "I was terrified of the military."
She said she saw soldiers shoot down a mother and child crossing the street after curfew and narrowly missed being shot herself while sneaking to a telephone one night. She kept the spent bullet, which hit a wall.
In October, 1991, she and the girl returned. Soon after, the couple decided to start Gabriel Home. They have the help of more than 30 volunteers, including two physical therapists.
"There's just no other home like this," Annie Ravish said. "It's a home-home."