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At a glance: Haiti

A mother in Haiti recalls the moments that changed her family's life

Haiti earthquake: one-year report

© UNICEF Haiti/2010/McBride
Ezana Tales with her three children in front of the destroyed Dei Gloria primary school and kindergarten in Port-au-Prince, which the children attended before the earthquake struck on 12 January 2010.

Children in Haiti are still reeling from the lingering impact of the 12 January 2010 earthquake. Here is one in a series of stories on the long road from relief to recovery, a year later.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, 4 January 2011 – Ezana Tales is a mother three children – Jefflove, 11, Vekerson, 9, and Manoupnepha, 4 – who all survived the earthquake that struck Haiti last January. She recently recalled the trauma her family experienced during and after the disaster.

Here, in her own words, is Ms. Tales’s story.

Disaster strikes

“On 12 January, a friend of mine picked the children up from school. The two elder children were doing their homework, and my youngest, Manoupnepha was watching television in a separate room.

“The children were hungry after school so I prepared them a snack. Vekerson was struggling with his homework and I was about to help him. At that exact moment – at 4:52 p.m. – the house started swaying. Instantly, I realized that my children were in two different rooms and my youngest was alone. It was difficult to get to them as the movement of the earthquake kept throwing me off balance, but I managed to get to all of the children.

“The television shelf had fallen onto Manoupnepha’s feet but, thankfully, nothing was broken.

Nights spent outside

“When the shaking had stopped, we were in complete shock. We gathered with other people in our neighbourhood in a field. I didn’t even have time to collect my shoes. My husband wasn’t home, and I knew immediately that there had been a lot of death.

“Near our house there was a school that had totally collapsed. I knew that there were a lot of children inside at the time.

“Finally, my husband called on the mobile and came to meet us in the field. We spent two nights sleeping outside and then went to Le Cap in the country for four months.

Worried about the future

“The children were very upset by the earthquake and still are severely affected. They don’t want to eat, and they worry a lot. Jefflove asked me, “Do you think I will finish my studies?” I encourage her as much as I can. She is a very intelligent and religious girl. My son Vekerson doesn’t like to be too far from me.

“All of them wonder what is going on – first the earthquake, then the hurricane and now cholera.

“As a mother, I have suffered a lot . It’s affected my health. I have high blood pressure and I’m nervous. Before the earthquake I was happy to be a stay-at-home mother, but now I don’t like to be there on my own. I really love my children and am worried about their future. I have cried a lot of tears for them and my country.”

Tania McBride complied and translated this story.



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