catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 9, Num 7 :: 2010.04.02 — 2010.04.15



What does an aftershock feel like? I couldn’t really imagine, but now I know.  We’ve had many, two 4.7’s just last week.  You can really hear the difference with a 4.7, it’s a rumble like thunder or a subsonic booming and grating noise.  In a just a couple of seconds it builds as everything begins to shake and then…

It’s over.  Your heart is pounding, you are tensed, ready to run, as if you actually could run if it keeps going or gets worse.  You wait and then try to get your breathing under control.  Perhaps the worst part for me is that I wasn’t here when the big one happened.  That adds a little acid guilt to the stomach churning cocktail of adrenalin.

We had a scheduled visit to the United States.  On January 12, we were at my in-laws, about to engage in our first real bit of vacation since last September 8, the day we moved our family to Haiti. I was settling our four kids in with popcorn, hot cocoa and The Sound of Music, when I heard my husband’s voice from the stairwell.  “Guess what? Haiti just had a 7.0 earthquake, in Carrefour.” 

I said, “Listen if your mom needs more help with dinner, just tell me.”

My husband, “No, really, you need to get up here and see this.  Don’t bring the kids.”

Talk about shock.  All the work we had done to get acclimated, learn Kreyol, adjust, all our plans, and now what?  What had happened to Haiti, to the places we had come to know, and most importantly the people? 

It was five days before we were able to make contact with our project.  We work in a rural area and thankfully, even though our project endured some of the worst shaking, the death toll was not what we had feared. 

We live close to Leogane and so daily we see some of the worst devastation outside Port au Prince, but our home survived in good shape.  Our project leaders and participants survived and continue trying to live a hard life in a beautiful but difficult place. 

When my husband was able to get in to assess the situation, the animators (project leaders) said, “We want to keep planting the trees.”  So we will continue to plant the trees, that’s the work we came here to do and we will help with what we can. 

We came “home” to Haiti on February 14, and the kids on the beach ran to greet us.  “Are you back? Eske ou tounen?”

“Wi, nou tounen, nou vle rete ak ou.”

“Yes, we’re back.  We want stay with you.”

Aftershocks and all.

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