The day started out as any ordinary day. People went about their business. Some went to their jobs while others lingered in the streets in search of something to do or eat. No one suspected the danger that lied underneath our feet. It was around 4 o’clock when disaster struck. My father and I were inside a camionette – the most common Haitian way of transportation. The traffic was as terrible as it had been for the past decade. My eyes were focused on a group of teenagers joking around by the sidewalk. Then, everything started to collapse.
In ten seconds, falling houses, broken roads, and screams, all surrounded me. The smoke in the air was suffocating me but I couldn’t say a word or move a muscle. I just stood there watching people crying, running, and asking for help to get out under the buildings. Blood oozed out of frantic people’s head. Children were crying for their parents and parents were crying for their children. It seemed as if oxygen wasn’t what we were breathing in any longer but rather smoke, blood, and despair. I couldn’t believe that a few seconds ago they were all happy and normal. In the blank of an eye, all those smiles were upside down. The earthquake took away all the joy and replaced it with misery in just about ten seconds. I watched my dear Haiti crumbling down deeper into the sand of desperation.
Back then, I didn’t know how important and life-changing those 10 fleeting seconds would come to be for Haitians everywhere. I remember walking around in the crumbled roads with my best friend on one side and my father on the other. As a 13 years-old girl, I sought my father’s comfort but at that moment nothing came. He couldn’t comfort me nor protect me from a threat he couldn’t see nor understand. For the first time in my life I saw fear in my father’s eyes.
Many people think that the earthquake only lasted for a few seconds but for us, the habitants of Haiti, it continues to wreck our hearts. Those 10 little seconds changed us, maybe not for the best but it definitely left its mark in an entire country. Six years later and we’re still recovering. Regardless of how divided we are, this day will always unify us. It took a piece of everyone either physically or psychologically.
After the earthquake, many Haitians in possession of a visa sought refuge elsewhere including my family. My brother and I ended up in Florida with our aunt while our parents stayed behind because my father was too fond and protective of his job. Despite having a clearer future than I did back in my country, I will not say that the earthquake helped me. It didn’t help any of us. Instead, it drove many of us away from our culture, our home, to a foreign land. And for that, those seconds will forever be running in our heart and soul.