10 Year Anniversary Of Haiti Earthquake
This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the devastating Haiti earthquake in 2010. It was a disaster on a huge scale, killing 250,000, injuring a further 300,000 and leaving millions without homes. This event sparked HHA’s response to provide treatment and rehabilitation for those who suffered spinal cord injuries during the earthquake. This work remains a core part of our mission in Haiti and now includes a wider range of disability rehabilitation. Today we remember all those who suffered and lost on 12th January 2010.
In December, I had the privilege to spend some time in Haiti where I met an incredible young man. Stevenson is 19 years old and has Down Syndrome. Last year Stevenson’s mother called some of the staff at our hospital desperate for help. As his mother shared more about Stevenson it was clear he’d had a bad stroke. Despite his condition, he was turned away from multiple health facilities who said they couldn’t help. His family finally made the decision to take the 7 hour journey to our Rehabilitation Unit so Stevenson could receive care.
When he arrived, Stevenson was unable to walk or talk due to his stroke. After extensive rehabilitation at our unit, it was incredible to witness him now proudly walking around the Rehab Unit as the life and soul of the hospital.
One afternoon I attended our hospital chapel and was moved to witness one of our Chaplains called Samuel, a tetraplegic survivor from the earthquake who was one of our first spinal rehabilitation patients, leading worship. On the front row, Stevenson was joyfully playing a tambourine, also taking the lead singing!
Ten years ago, it would have been hard to find such an image in Haiti. Individuals with Spinal Cord Injuries, like Samuel, had a 1-2 year life expectancy and people like Stevenson would rarely have found such care, leaving them with life-long debilitating disabilities. Since we started our rehabilitation work as a result of the earthquake we’ve helped transform the lives of thousands of people with disabilities.
Sadly, I doubt the media will spend much time reflecting on Haiti this weekend. For those that do, there may be the inevitable questions over what’s been achieved in Haiti since 2010. On this special anniversary we’d ask you to stop and remember those friends and staff dear to us who tragically lost loved ones. But as you reflect, may you also remember their incredible courage which has enabled stories, like Stevenson’s, to become a reality.
10 years on and we are as committed as ever to the future of Haiti. In fact, this weekend we’re delighted to share the exciting new plans of an important new project we’re undertaking in Haiti over the next few years; a new Maternity and Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that will dramatically increase our ability to provide life-saving health care to mums and babies for the next 10 years! There will be more news about this in the coming months.
For now though, we pass on our deep thanks to you for all your support since 12th January 2010. We also take this moment to stand in solidarity with our Haitian brothers and sisters, praying for them and committing to stand with them now and in the future.
With love and thanks,
Carwyn and the HHA Team