Haiti

The terrible tragedy of the earthquake that hit Haiti has touched us all, all over the world and people everywhere is donating the little they have or volunteering to help. The disaster hit very close to home for me. My younger brother has been in Haiti as part of the UN peacekeeping force since last summer and was scheduled to go back to Brazil this past weekend. After the earthquake hit, we didn’t hear from him for over 12 hours. Something deep inside assured me he was ok and I was relieved to hear from his wife that he had called and assured he was safe and sound. But it was only on Friday that I was able to talk to him on skype and hear from him what happened. That’s when he told me that the building where he lived collapsed. It was a three-story building and he was on the second floor, walking along a hallway when everything started shaking. He ran to the stairs but they collapsed in front of him. He saw a door open, ran through it, saw a balcony and jumped without thinking. He hit the ground at the same time as the rest of the building. He didn’t have a scratch on him but the ordeal had only began. The ground continued to shake for hours afterward. Tsunami alerts were issued and he felt they were all going to die since they were near shore and had nowhere to go. There was also the issue of all those who were not so lucky and remained trapped under the rubble. For the next seven hours he and others talked to one of his close friends, who had been on the ground floor and was now trapped under the building. They were finally able to get him out alive, but he died as soon as they took him out. He was a close friend and my brother is still shaken up by it. He is scheduled to go back to Brazil in the next couple of weeks, but meanwhile he helps in any way he can. During the past two days his unit has distributed 55 tons of water and food. They have also managed to get about 60 people from the rubble and have been busy collecting and burying bodies. He says there are still many people alive under collapsed buildings. They can hear people asking for help. And that’s the most difficult part. Seeing someone asking for help and not being able to help everybody. At least he will be able to go home. Others are not so lucky.

This is where my brother lived:

My brother, celebrating Christmas with some of the locals that work at his base:

The building after the earthquake:

Here in Canada, the disaster has affected many. The Haitian community in Canada is quite large and our own Governor General is from Haiti and still has many family and friends in the place. Her televised announcement is heartbreaking. And she is right. This is not about her, or me, or my brother. This is about the people of Haiti. My heart goes out to them.