On January 12, 2010, I was sitting in my den watching television, when my brother said “Lisa, an earthquake hit Haiti!” My heart dropped, I quickly changed the channel to the news and just felt sadness for the country and worry for my grandmother. I have no memory of what I was watching or wearing, all I remember are my feelings. I was frantic, anxious, and obsessive in the hours following the earthquake. My heart pounded and stomach flip flopped, as I kept watching the news and refreshing my news feed on Twitter and Facebook. I had a morbid sense of longing; I wanted to be in Haiti with my grandmother and I imagined myself helping people. After searching and many phone calls, we eventually were able to get in touch with my grandmother. My grandmother luckily was outside when the earthquake hit and her house suffered minimal damage; just a crack along side the house. She was going to be evacuated out the country along with other American citizens. Unfortunately, many in the country were not so lucky to experience minimal damage or have the opportunity to leave the situation. The physical and psychological anguish is one that still lingers to this day.
After my grandmother’s evacuation to the United States, my sisters and I went to visit her at her house. There was so much I wanted to ask her, but I was hesitant. I wanted to know what she did with all the food, clothes, and supplies she brought to Haiti and I wanted a visual of what the country looked like from her perspective. There was much I wanted to ask, but all I really got out of her was a lesson on why children should always listen to their elders (a reaction to me not scheduling my flight for Jan. 12), relief that Ashley and I were not in Haiti, because we could have been hanging out in the neighborhood and gotten hurt, and a brief mention on the destruction. Underneath her commentary, I got a sense of fear and sadness. During that visit, she would randomly say, “Can you feel that?” After hearing her say things like that, I never probed deeper into her experiences; I could only imagine.
The following days and months after the earthquake, I naively thought I would still travel to Haiti and my flight would not be cancelled, just rescheduled. I had this strong desire to go and help. Despite my flight being cancelled, I found a way to help the country, through the Association of Haitian Physicians Abroad. For three months and many sleepless nights, I assisted in sending medication and health professionals to the country. Though I did not travel to Haiti for my soul searching adventure, I was able from afar to realize I wanted to do all in my power as part of the Diaspora to help Haiti reach its full potential. I have kept that promise and spread news of Haiti via social media, classroom presentations, and charitable involvement. I continue to stay connected to the country by my travels to Haiti in October 2010, December 2011, and January 2012. I also am using Haiti as a case study for my dissertation and have hopes to travel to the country in June 2015. With collective and collaborative efforts, the country will improve.
January 12, 2015 at 4:53pm marks five years since the earthquake. I wanted to write something inspiring and thoughtful, put I could not put words to paper. So I decided to compile recent information about the earthquake from around the web. Below you will find general commentary about what happened on January 12, 2010, non-profits and NGO updates, newspaper insights on the recovery process, information on donation questions, and more. Hopefully as you browse through the commentary, you can gain more insight on what happened five years ago and what needs to happen in the future. Feel free to share in the comments any additional link or thoughts.
note: click on the titles to go to the websites
What Happened on 1/12/2010 at 4:53pm?
An urban planning PhD student finding peace in creating a balance between the mind, body, soul, & environment.