In Septemeber 2008, I traveled 6000 miles to Haiti's Kenscoff mountains. My mission: to care for some of the orphaned and abandoned, the sick, malnourished and premature infants of this beautiful but beleagured Caribbean nation.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A Fragile Confidence, Further Undermined

Lack of sleep has a way of getting to a person - many people in Haiti have been experiencing sleep disturbance since January the 12th. For those people, last night was particularly unsettled.

9:45 pm: I was sitting in my room, feeling sleepy, when the bed starts to rock with me on it. Aftershocks are few and far between at this point. My heart quickens, my stomach lurches, I look at the clock. One second, two seconds... There is dread in my heart. Will this one stop soon? Will it intensify.

It lasted 3 seconds, felt like a magnitude 3.5. There was silence, and then a wail from the ladies who sleep below ground level.

Up in the nurseries, the nannies were all awake in their beds. 'It wakened you?' I asked.
'Yes Susan, we were all asleep? You.'
'Not quite.'

I had been in the big nursery shortly after 9pm, and everyone had been sound asleep. It had been dark, and still. One or two people were disturbed enough by my coming in, to shift in their beds, but no-one woke.

Now, I looked from crib to crib. There was a light on and a radio was playing. The babies were sound asleep, completely unperturbed, little chests rising and falling. The woman, though, were visibly shaken.

They were on mattresses on the floor. They still will not sleep in their beds, but prefer to sleep close to a door that leads out onto a balcony. In the first days and weeks after the earthquake, the nannies slept on that balcony. I know that should we have another big earthquake, that balcony will probably be the least stable part of the house. I also know that with their mattresses blocking the closed door, the ladies will not be able to get outside quickly. I have told them these things, yet somehow, the thought of being 'close' to the outside, and a more open area gives them a feeling of security.

'Miss Susan, wont you sit with us?'

Downstairs, there were a few tears. I gave hugs, and the best re-assurance I could offer. They told me they understood that engineers had deemed our house structurally sound, but they felt no assurance that it could withstand another earthquake, 'and this isn't over,' they said, shaking their heads. There is despair in some of their eyes.

Their hearts and minds had just began to settle, and now their fragile confidence is further undermined. I can't promise them that another big quake wont come - actually, seismologists consider it a given that at some point, maybe fifty years from now, or maybe within the year, there will be another.

The ladies spoke about their feelings of anxiety. I validated those feelings, and talked about the importance of taking care of themselves, for the sake of their physical and emotional health. I also told them they were in my prayers.

It was twenty minutes past mid-night before we left the living room of the main house to head to 'bed.' I slept failrly well after that, but I am very tired this morning. I know I will not be the only one.


Cathy said...

It warms my heart to see the two children gaining weight. I will pray for the nurses/nannies and yourself with these aftershocks/quakes. I think of your mission so often. Bless you!

GlowinGirl said...

You are doing a beautiful thing, which is one of the reasons I want to give you an award. The other reason is so that others will know about the beautiful thing you are doing and lift you up in prayer.

Here's the award:

Catherine said...

Beeing with you.... in those moments also of fears that I completly understand....