Stories of obstacles and triumph are already beginning to emerge from Haiti, the site of a devastating 7.0 earthquake last Thursday. HuffPost Impact will be tracking stories of hope, sacrifice and perseverance in the coming weeks.
David McDaniel, the Director of Children's International Lifeline, a nonprofit organization that provides food and schooling for children in Haiti blogged on January 14 about witnessing the earthquake's aftermath. He describes the mass destruction around him but notes the kindness and hospitality the Haitian people have shown him despite everything that has happened.
McDaniel was invited into a home of a woman who works as a housekeeper. In her home, the beds are covered with rocks and remains from what fell during the earthquake. Like many families in Haiti her family is living on the streets.
The people are sleeping in the road that we walk down at night because they feel more safe than in their homes. It is bad. You know the mud huts are leaning and the rock houses have big holes and walls are falling and cracks so large that it could fall on them while they sleep with just a little jarring.
McDaniel's notes his overwhelming feelings of guilt that the woman cleaning his home does not have anywhere to sleep at night. He expresses his desire to help her.
Laura T. Coffrey, Todayshow.com editor, writes that 254 Haitian children are currently in the process of becoming adopted by U.S. families. The earthquake on January 12 was a living nightmare for these families who feared for their childs' lives, well being and the possibility of never seeing them again.
These adoptive parents already feel bonded to their children because the Haitian adoption agencies match up children and future parents very early on, allowing parents to visit Haiti and meet with their child for up to three weeks.
Jennett Benedict from California describes her reaction when she heard about the earthquake. Benedict is in the process of adopting a 2-year-old girl from Haiti.
I was just shaking...Just hysterical. Just -- I don't think there's any way I can describe it.
Many families like Benedict's don't know if their child survived the earthquake. They describe waiting, calling and praying that their children are safe. Parents who have learned that their child survived fear for their child's health with the lack of food and water available. Also, parents fear that the lengthy adoption process already existing between Haiti and America will be exacerbated.
Many parents who have legally adopted their children are asking Members of the House and Senate to issue visas and passports to bring their children to the United States. Jennett Benedict is one of these parents. Her little girl, Lovely, was awaiting a Haitian passport in order to receive a visa to come to the United States. Obtaining a passport right now in Haiti seemed like a completely impossible endeavor to Benedict but she has recently received good news that The State Department might begin issuing visas to children like Lovely.
Lovely's case is extremely urgent. She is two years old and because of malnourishment weighs only 15 pounds. With the shortage of food and water in Haiti, the Benedicts are very eager to bring her to the United States where she can be cared and provided for.
In 2007, there were approximately 380,000 orphans in Haiti.
Hal Berton from The Seattle Times showcases Jesse Hagopian, an out-of-work school teacher who traveled to Haiti with his wife and son to promote AIDS awareness. Little did they know their trip would involve a natural disaster. With no medical experience at all, Hagopian found himself helping survivors of the earthquake with broken bones, fractures and head injuries.
An EMT from the United States asked Hagopian for his help and taught him how to give medical aid to the people who needed it. Hagopian only knew the man as J.H., who was one of the first medics on the scene. Hagopian said:
People started coming with a broken leg, a broken arm,...Then the floodgates started to open, and we had truckloads of people show up. I had to do a whole lot of procedures, and the injuries started getting worse.
Hagopian admires J.H for his heroism and his ability to set up a clinic without any supplies. People came with all sorts of injuries but J.H did not turn any away. According to Hagopian the hotel staff acted heroically as well, supplying water and sheets for the wounded.
Hagopian and his family are still in Haiti but hope to be able to go home soon. Hagopian's goal upon returning to the United States is to raise money for survivors of the earthquake.
Christine Brelsford story is highlighted in The Miami Herald. Brelsford was one of the first students to be rescued from Haiti. The 25-year-old Alaskan native and student at Arizona State University was on a trip to Haiti to promote literacy for children and adults.
Brelsford and fellow classmates were staying about twelve miles south of Port-au-Prince. After the earthquake struck, Brelsford was trapped in a fallen building, with pieces of concrete covering her legs. Luckily her brother and friends were able to dig her out from beneath the rubble, which took about 90 minutes.
I am so thankful to be alive...I'm so terribly sorry for all the people in Haiti.
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