From The Grio — Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami (FANM), recalls the day two years ago when the devastating earthquake in Haiti changed her community forever.
It seemed like yesterday. I was contemplating another long day at work, when suddenly all the lines at our FANM office in Miami’s Little Haiti started ringing all at once.
My heart skipped a bit. Another boat must have landed. Bondye, God, let everybody be alright. As the calls started coming through, we heard the inconceivable news.
A 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook the island of Haiti. The devastation was beyond macabre. Over 300,000 dead. Thousands more injured. Most of the death resulted from people crushed under piles of rubble (which reduced in scope, are still an eyesore throughout the capitol). Since housing codes are non-existent in Haiti, people built haphazardly, not thinking that the concrete could one day be their tombs.
Adele attends English classes at FANM. She vividly remembers where she was. “I was in a tap tap going home,” she says with heavy tears falling down her face. She makes no attempt to wipe them. The fear is still there in the depths of her expressive brown eyes.
Suddenly, the tap tap started jumping on the road like a ball. Anmwe! Osekou! Help! She did not understand. Maybe it was the end? The Armageddon that some predicted? Then the wall on the right side of the road in Delmas just crumbled. Buildings imploded like piles of uneven cards.
It lasted only a few seconds, but it could have easily been a year. Adele dug for her dead sister with her bare hands. She can still recall the smell… the smell of death and utter despair.
She has been living in the U.S for almost two years now. She is learning English and computer stills, but no job has landed yet. Like many who arrived after the earthquake, Adele was an entrepreneur in Haiti. She has temporary protected status, but she has not qualified for benefits.