When the Earth moved in Haiti
By May-lissa Berger
It took seven days for us to hear anything from our father. Our aunts and uncles were successful in making contact with us three days after the earthquake hit. Their house has cracked but did not collapse. But the fear of one of the many aftershocks possibly bringing it down had them sleeping in the yard. Even staying in the yard was unsafe as many criminals are walking the streets and breaking into homes that are intact. One of our uncles was not as lucky. His apartment building has collapsed. He lived on the first floor and there are two floors above him. When the earthquake hit, he was asleep.
As my sister and I got news from family members who were safe, we had no news from our father. We e-mailed with no replies. We were all over Facebook posting his information as our status and his picture in our profile. Since our father is a popular man, we knew we would be successful posting things on his page that would get his friends attention. We posted his picture on CNN.com and NewYorkTimes.com, and placed his name in the missing person's list on the Red Cross website. We went to church and prayed. We attended candle light ceremonies and prayed in the privacy of our rooms.
We kept in touch with his students and co-workers, gave them addresses and numbers that may help them reach him. The stress of the experience took over my body. Tension tightened my left shoulder, arm and the side of my neck. The pain was excruciating and lying in bed only drove unpleasant thoughts of what may have happened to my father to mind. I spent nights having nightmares and crying myself to sleep.
When the pain in my arm became too hard to bear, my sister, my cousin and I made our way to the emergency room. On our way, my sister's phone rang and in the middle of the route 29 my sister shrieked. They had found my father under the rubble of his house along with my two little brothers, Michael, 7, and Christian, 9. His co-worker who contacted us told us that she spoke to my father and he said that he and the boys are doing fine.
We were unable to reach our father directly for a couple days. We received an e-mail from him towards the end of the week, he simply told us that all is well but they were hungry. My sister and I rushed to send them some money and promised to keep it coming to him every week. A week later, my sister called our father and finally reached him. She told me that dad is no longer himself. He sounded hysterical and was unable to carry on a conversation. She asked him to speak to our little brother Michael.
"Michael, how are you?" she asked
"I'm okay. We're getting by," He responded weakly.
"What's wrong, are you sick?"
"Then what's wrong? You don't sound too good."
"The doctor cut off my foot."
My sister was in shock. "What do you mean, Michael?"
"I only have one foot now, Medjine, just one."
My sister said after Michael told her what was happening my father quickly took the phone from him and told her that he didn't want us to worry too much. My sister gave me the news as soon as got home. Now we are desperately trying to find any way of getting the best care for him or maybe even get him here to the states. But even with the "aid" the government says it is offering to those who maybe trying to get loved ones here, they are asking for papers that many no longer have. Birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses are all things that are buried in homes or offices. Fees that are hundreds of dollars, more than two college students can rustle up to try to take care of their family overseas.
This earthquake has changed our lives. Knowing that our father and brothers are struggling to get by affects us more than anything. Constantly worrying about where they are sleeping, if they are safe, are they eating, do they have clean clothes takes a toll.
Even though we feel helpless at times and that there is nothing more we can do, we pray. If there is one thing our nation cherishes the most it is their faith in God. And that faith can get us through anything.