12 CP Period 1
19 Oct 2010
A January 12th, afternoon.
I would have never believed it even if I were told, even if I were shown pictures. I would never think that 35 seconds could lead to such an irreparable chaos.
January 12th, 2010, a sunny and warm Tuesday, was the second day of class for the New Year. I was peacefully riding a bus to go home and at 5:22 p.m., when we were brutally propelled to the left while the bus tilted onto two wheels. We first thought that it was the power of a wind but the trees weren’t moving. The bus was still __________ shaking; a woman in the bus whispered “sa tramblement de te sa genyen li pesiste konsa?” “Why is the shaking still persisting?” Then we finally understood what was happening. The bus was stopped in the middle of the street in downtown Port au Prince, where there were the oldest buildings. When I looked out the window, there were people yelling. “Jesus-Christ, Jesus, help us.” I suddenly saw a woman running from under a building; she didn’t even make four steps because a cement block fell on her head. Cars were hitting each other. A crowd of people started to run from the buildings to go to the public square. In a five minutes record, a grey crowd of dust was formed and prevented us from seeing anything. All we could hear was the deafening “blow, blaw” of the houses collapsing and also the terrified cries of the people.
We had no other choice but to rush out of the bus and look for a safe place. Since we were all panicking, all of us were trying to get out of the bus at the same time. Finally, after some painful effort we were stepping on the sidewalks, hands on the nose, trying to breathe and see at the same time. We started running toward the “Champ de Mars,” which was the widest public square of the country. After a few minutes of running, I realized that I forgot my bag in the bus which had my phone and the key to my apartment. I had to run back to find it. On my way back, I saw something on the ground moving slowly. I quickly realized that it was a person. When I came closer, I realized that it was a little boy. He had a serious injury on his right foot, which looked like a big piece of cement had fallen onto it. By looking at him suffering and begging, I quickly saw that his safety was more important than all that I could possibly have to do in that moment. So I put his hurt feet away while I lifted him on my arms and headed back to the safety.
Holding him in my hands was even harder than seeing him suffering on the ground. He was crying and yelling so much. His pain must have been unbearable. He couldn’t stop asking me to put him down, “ou met kite’m mouri , m pakab anko.” “You can let me die, I can’t take it anymore.”
After putting him with the other wounded, I ran back to find my bag which someone from the bus had thrown in the middle of the streets. When I tried to use my phone, there was no signal. At the same time I heard a woman say “the phones don’t work, oh Jesus, it’s the end.”
There was no way to take cabs, motorcycles, or rides. Everybody was inquiring about their houses; they were all in a hurry to know their fate. I had to know my fate too. There was nothing to do but to walk a few miles home. I started walking fast, then a few minutes later I had to stop and take a look down in a valley which had probably, before the earthquake, hundreds of houses in a shantytown design, but now there were only twenty-three left. The rest collapsed into the valley. The wounded, on the side of the road or against the leaning houses, could only break the strongest of your hopes. The babies, or children partly lining under rubble had the awesome power to weaken the strongest and to bury the weakest.
Walking hopelessly, I heard a crowd shouting “dlo, dlo, men dlo!” which meant “water, water, here comes the water.” People started running. Everybody thought about a tsunami, so we were in a hurry to get to the top of the mountain. We were already going up a slope, so they started running faster. This false alarm just made it harder for the wounded; some were just abandoned by other people that were helping them.
I couldn’t walk or run as fast as the others since I had, on my shoulder, a woman that I pulled from her car; her head was bleeding badly.
Finally, after a few hours, I arrived back in my neighborhood. The chaos that I was looking at made my fears grow exponentially. All the houses were down to the ground. All the people were crying and running around since they couldn’t find their loved ones. I walked faster and faster to my house. When I came to it, it was all the way on the ground. The roof languished on the blocks already crushed. I felt powerless; I felt like I had no more reason to live. I felt like the roof was lying over my heart, but I didn’t cry. I didn’t want to cry. I ran to the pile of debris that used to be my house. I heard a voice say “Smeedhley, Smeedhley, here we are!” I turned over, searching for the voice, looking everywhere. When I finally saw my mom, alive, with no injuries, I knew what she, and the rest of my family, meant to me.
This evening, due to many emergency calls coming from the hospital, my uncle doctor had had to go to the hospital to lend strong hand and brought me and another cousin with him. And the hospital was the worst place to go after such a disaster. The wounded were flowing on us like rain fall, there were so many of them that the hospital, unprepared for such a rush, was already full in the first thirty minutes we arrived. Wounded were flowing all over the place, doctors didn’t have no time to take good care of them. Some were obliged to be amputated while they could have healed under good care. A few minutes in the hospital and I couldn’t take it anymore so I went back home but couldn’t sleep.
However now, I’m here. And this experience is one of the most positive ones to me because I learned a lot from it. And it also helped me turn to the medical profession to be a better and careful doctor.