By Andrea Farinango
Imagine not knowing where your mother or father is. Imagine not knowing if you would see your child’s eyes again before you lay them to sleep. These are some of the heartbreaking questions that ran through the heads of many Haitian residents when tragedy struck their land on January 12. In the late afternoon of Tuesday, January 12 the little Caribbean capital Port-Au-Prince in Haiti was shook by a massive 7.0 earthquake. Some residents say the earth just split in half before their eyes. Considering it was just late afternoon when the earthquake struck, many residents didn’t have a fighting chance in most cases because they were in either buildings of employment, education or their own homes. Haiti is also known as a country that shelters the poorest people on the western hemisphere, with its low resources, low life expectancy, and poor education it comes to no surprise that most Haitian residents live on less than two dollars a day.
The quake which has been said to be the worst humanitarian disaster in decades, surpassing the Asian Tsunami in 2004 lasted about 30 seconds and that’s all it needed to cause tremendous damage to the center of Port-Au Prince. Thousands of lives were transformed forever; 250,000 injured, 400,000 million homeless and the death toll government officials say can rise up to 200,000. To add to this sad ordeal burial, officials have ordered that mass graves be created to avoid the spread of disease from all the corpses lying around on the streets. There is no time to give these people a proper burial as their families would have wanted and many of which most corpses are still unidentified. Burial workers who have been working with bulldozers and earth movers to bury the victims say that since the January 12 earthquake they have so far buried 90,000 people.
I had the pleasure to meet and speak to a Haitian native named Franco who is in his first year at college in New York. When I first spoke to Franco I gave him my condolences because his family is one of many who have been affected by this untimely event in Haiti. I asked him how was he coping and he told me he was okay for the most part even though his eyes told a different story, a painful story that not even his brightest smiles could hide. When I asked about how his family was dealing with everything that has recently happened he stated that his family is not coping so well, for the most part his mother who has been heartbroken ever since the quake shook the little island of Haiti. His mother can’t watch the news anymore he says it kills her because that is her country, the country she grew up in, and now in rubbles.
However, with this tragic event also came about great heroes, heroes who may not have badges or certificates, heroes who are normal like you and I that are willing to give a helping hand to their brothers and sisters. With Haiti’s violent history it is touching to see Haiti and its people coming together not to fight one another but to help one another through this devastation. Haitian residents who have been affected by the earthquake one way or another went out and started looking for survivors as soon as they could, bringing drills, flashlights and water to keep victims who were trapped hydrated. There are also miracles happening around Port-Au-Prince, 8 days after the quake an uncle pulls his nephew out of the rubble, his body was weak and shutting down but the boy who was rushed to central hospital in Port-Au-Prince is now showing improvement. Even though the boy’s parents were not as fortunate as him and did not survive miracles like these shine light and hope on to a bitter sad situation like this.
Miracles or not, we as the human race have felt a little of what the people of Port-Au-Prince have felt, we feel their pain but in most cases we have yet to experienced it. Our hearts and love have been pouring over Haiti since the earthquake happened. We’ve expressed our feelings with millions of dollars and aid pouring in from many sources, countries, US military, and relief aid organizations. The Red Cross has put out donation boxes around many established businesses to keep the donations coming and we at NVCC are also taking part in donating money to Haiti’s relief. The Volunteer Club is selling $1.00 cards to help raise money for Haiti; the cards will fill up the Prism lounge to show the support put in the relief effort, other cash donations are also welcome. We have to give what we can because after all the donations have been collected our conscience will be more at ease to know we have done something to help. On the other hand, the people who have been affected by this tragedy are going to be the ones that are still dealing losses and the aftermath that comes with rebuilding their fallen capital.