Sunday, January 12th marks the 10th anniversary of the massive earthquake that struck Haiti, taking the lives of an estimated 250,000-300,000 people, injuring at least 300,000 more, and displacing more than 1.5 million people. On this tragic day, buildings, houses and schools across the capital city of Port-au-Prince came crumbling down. The event lasted a mere 30 seconds, but this small island nation and its people were forever transformed.
In thinking about how to best honor this anniversary date, we turned to our team and asked them to share memories of this day and the days following. Their stories are not easy to read, but they are real, heartfelt, and they remind us of the deep and powerful resilience of the human spirit. They help us understand that, underneath it all, we are more alike than we are different. They remind us of what is possible when we come together.
We invite you to take a few moments from your day and read these powerful words.
I still remember that day. It was 4:52pm when I started feeling vibrations that I confirmed after having a look into my cup of water on my desk. I didn’t have time to realize what it was when, suddenly, the building started shaking.
At the office, I was with David Putt and Emmanuel Gay. They ran under my desk, and I quickly joined them. As we started to understand what was happening, we all three were crying “Jesus Sovem!” (“Jesus save us!”).
I still keep in memory that PWW didn’t give up on us during that difficult time. They have always been there, supporting all of the staff as much as possible.
For months following the earthquake, we learned a great deal about what can save lives, through training and other supports. We learned lessons that have changed our way of seeing things and of seeing one another.
And, personally, I have learned that, when death is knocking at our doors, we forget who we are, where we are, our nationality, and our social rank. It’s the moment where a second counts more than all those you’ve already lived. All that we’re thinking during that instant is to have a second chance, stay alive in order to repair all our errors, love harder, forgive, and make promises that really we intend to keep.
Life is so precious. We have to know that before it’s ending.