Surviving the Earthquake in Haiti
Thank you to everyone who reached out to support Haiti DreamRoot partners Rose, David and the DreamRoot Resource Center in Les Cayes following the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck on the morning of August 14.
Thankfully, we can report that Rose, David and their children are safe and continue to serve the local community, located about 20 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.
Yet, the aftermath of the earthquake that hit in the wake of the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse on July 7 in Port-au-Prince is devastating. The earthquake was felt across the region including in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
We’ve been in contact with Rose and David throughout the summer’s upheaval and are inspired by their daily dedication to serve their community which has suffered tremendous loss in the earthquake.
While most of the damage was sustained in Les Cayes, the school compound where Rose and David educate more than 200 students and where the DreamRoot Resource Center was constructed earlier this summer withstood the earthquake and aftershocks with no structural damage! The security wall surrounding the compound, however, fell in the quake and will be rebuilt.
Most homes and buildings were not as fortunate. In fact, more than a month after their homes were destroyed, many students are still camping in tents or in cars throughout the town of Les Cayes. Small earthquakes and aftershocks have continued to terrify the devastated community.
Although they have been spending most of their days outside serving the community with extracurricular activities in their compound for local children and families, Rose, David and their two children have taken shelter in the one-story school’s classrooms due to their home being less able to withstand the aftershocks. They will remain there until the aftershocks and smaller quakes subside.
Providing a physically and emotionally safe place for the children to play and connect is especially critical. The Haitian government has postponed the opening of schools until October 4 so damages can be repaired. “It is helpful to have the extra time. But the children are losing an entire month of education. We know we have to provide an outlet for kids to escape the less-than-ideal, and possibly unsupportive and unsafe, environments,” explained Rose, school principal and DreamRoot local leader.
Survivors of all ages can experience PTSD, anxiety and depression after a natural disaster. This is especially true if they are also grieving the loss of their parents, siblings, grandparents, other family members or friends, and their safe places such as home and school.
We encourage everyone to be that safe place for someone who has suffered loss, and lives with the anxiety and fear of not knowing what will happen next. Survivors often feel alone, powerless, vulnerable, unprotected and unvalued. It’s not easy for others to sit with them in their pain. You may feel uncomfortable and want to fix it. It’s ok to feel uncomfortable but there’s no quick fix for wounds this deep. They take time to heal. However, you can help them take the first step in their healing journey.
Quietly sitting with a person in their darkest moments and providing a safe place for them to release their raw grief is a life-changing gift. You don’t need to make them feel better. You don’t need to buy them a new house. You don’t even need to say a word. Just be present. Let them express themselves—it may be in words, it may be in tears, it may be in silence as they process their thoughts and feelings. If you get uncomfortable, breathe through it. It may not be happy and pretty but loving one another is beautiful and brave.
Thank you again to all those who have supported these local leaders in the face of such challenging circumstances and partnering with us in this mission to release the potential of local leaders in underserved communities to reverse the cycles of poverty and promote human flourishing.
Haitians are a resilient and persevering people committed to their nation’s development and progress. Everyone at DreamRoot cherishes the beautiful people of Haiti who inspire us with their dedication and drive. We are proud to stand with them.
Executive Director, DreamRoot Leadership Institute
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