Lingering effects of Haiti earthquake cause strife for recovering nation
Editor’s note: CoJMC student Rachel Hobbs traveled to Haiti this month as part of a missionary relief program. The following story details some of Rachel’s observations.
Story and photos by Rachel Hobbs, NewsNetNebraska
January 12, 2014 marked the fourth anniversary of the earthquake that caused massive destruction in Haiti.
Death toll estimates from the 7.0 magnitude quake varied widely; from 100,000 by private relief organizations, to Haitian government claims of 316,000 deaths that some international groups claimed were inflated.
The Haitian government estimated 250,000 residences and 30,000 commercial buildings collapsed or were severely damaged by the earthquake.
An April missionary trip to Port-Au-Prince and Gonaȉves showed that, even four years later, the earthquake’s effects could still be felt.
Clare Hugeot, 16, of Chicago was one of the volunteers who worked with the Missionaries of Charity in Haiti. There, Hugeot and the other volunteers cared for the poor as well as women and children in a housing compound for the terminally ill.
“It’s was an eye-opening experience,” Hugeot said.
In the hospital, Hugeot helped care for many children, including a four-year-old boy named Jean who was dying of typhoid fever. Hugeot helped the boy keep hydrated and stayed with him throughout the day.
Hugeot, along with other volunteers, also sang to Jean as he fell asleep that night. By the time Hugeot returned the next morning, Jean had died.
“It was heartbreaking,” she said, noting that typhoid is treatable if there is access to medical treatment.
Yet, death is not uncommon to the people of Haiti. Poverty, disease and starvation are major issues that most of the population faces.
“Though many of the people are poor, Haitians are still a very strong and proud people,” Katelyn Moroney of Rhode Island said.
Moroney, one of the group leaders of the expedition, has a close connection to Haiti and its people. She has two adoptive siblings from Haiti–a younger brother and sister. Moroney’s brother was only two when he came to the United States. Her sister was seven and had been abandoned by her mother before she reached her new home in the U.S.
Amidst all the suffering and struggles, Moroney noted the resiliency and strength of the Haitian people.
“Though there’s still so much suffering and poverty, there’s also a lot of hope and joy,” Moroney said. “This experience has made me grateful for all of the little things that most people take for granted.”