I went to Haiti on the 15th of February, 2010 to see my family and to investigate the situation there.

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Sunday, 28 February 2010

I am so glad to be alive!

While visiting Hopital Espoir a young lady caught my attention. The first day I saw her, she was being treated in one of the rooms by a volunteer doctor one of many who came from Germany to handle the amputations that were needed in the wake of the earthquake. That day, I remember she was trying hard not to scream as her head and hand were being dressed. I felt intrusive with my video camera so left the room as quietly as possible. On my return a few days later, I found her in a tent with all the other patients who did not want to remain indoors following the the 4.7 aftershock

This time she was in better spirits and as we chatted I was amazed by her experience. Her name is Marie-Lynn Jean, she was at school when the earthquake hit; this is her story.

Marie-Lynn Jean

" I was at school when it happened. I was sitting there doing my work and I noticed that the chairs started to dance and everyone started to run out. I got up to follow them but the ceiling collapsed on top of us. The school is four storeys high and we were on the second storey, the other storeys all came down on us. I was trapped under the rubble and I could see that many of the other students were dead, they died right away. Some of my friends were still alive but I noticed that each time one would vomit he or she would then die. (She groaned...) This happened on Tuesday. Then people started to come to look for their loved ones and would take the body of that person away. If your parents did not come looking for you, you just stayed there.

At this point there were three of us still alive in the room, that was Wednesday night. I think one of them tried to crawl out but was not rescued and the family of the other one came to get him. I was the only one left with the dead. Later I started to scream and I heard voices some distance away. They asked what's your name. I said Marie-Lynn, they said Marie-Lynn Jean? I said yes and they asked me to give them my parent's phone number.

Some time later my family came and they started to call my name. I was deep under the rubble. I heard my brother saying 'I am touching someone is that you?' I said no you must be touching a dead person. So he kept touching other bodies until I felt him touch me. I said now you have me at this point I heard him step back and he started to sob because he could not help me. A while later some other people came. I was very uncomfortable because I was on my left knee and my right leg was stretched out and I had been like that for three days. My left arm was caught between the legs of a dead body and was already infected as I was already there three days. There was a chair pressing on my head with another dead body on it. That day the electricity came back and my foot was on a naked wire so I got electrocuted but thank God there were people around and they cut the wire quickly.

Gladys and Marie-Lynn.  You can see the spot on her head hurt by the chair

When they finally made their way through, they tried to pull the chair and the body that were on my head by tying a rope on the chair but it was not budging, so they tied the other end to a car and pulled it out. They did the same thing with the dead body between whose legs my arm was caught. At this point I felt a bit more comfortable but I still could not crawl out so they propped up the cement ceiling and lifted it a bit and someone came down to me, put my body on top of his and pulled himself out and rescued me.

My infected arm was black. They put me in a pickup truck and tried to take me to a hospital. The streets were still in chaos. I heard shooting and we had to turn around several times. They tried three different hospitals but there was no space for me so they finally took me to my house. The doctor who lived not far prescribed some IV and a nurse came and put it on for me. My infected arm was getting worse so they wanted the doctor to help further but that doctor did not care about my life, she wanted money. So the people in the neighbourhood collected the amount that was needed they transported me to her place on a door used as a stretcher. When I got there I was still waiting to be seen when my cousin came and said that there is a place called Hopital Espoir (Hope Hospital) and that any one with serious need could go there. So that's how I came to this hospital.

On Monday they told me if I did not have my arm amputated I would die so the next day we had to sign papers and they amputated my arm."

Listening to Marie-Lynn I had to suppress my tears. I kept thinking no one should have to go through this, especially not a girl as young as this. I felt sorry for her and yet she did not look like she felt sorry for herself. Besides the times when she was wincing from pain, there was a lovely smile on her face. She kept saying to Galdys who came to talk to her that she was so thankful to be alive. Before the interview there were talks of transferring her to another hospital because of some complication on her foot. By the time we finished talking she received the good news that she would not be moved but that a specialist would come to her instead. She just shouted for joy and asked Gladys to bend down to her height so that she could give her a kiss.
According to the staff at Espoir, the injured foot will most likely be amputated as well...

I just hope that when my car breaks down, that when the stresses of my “tough life” in England are getting the best of me or that when things don't go my way I'll be able to say like her: "I am so thankful to be alive".

The foot that will be amputated

Daily hand exercise

I am so happy to be alive!