Earthquake survivor tells his tale

Christian Aid's Haiti country manager Prospery Raymond at his desk in Port-au-Prince before the quake struck in January 2010. Photo taken by Adrian Horsman.
Christian Aid's Haiti country manager Prospery Raymond at his desk in Port-au-Prince before the quake struck in January 2010. Photo taken by Adrian Horsman.

A HAITIAN Christian Aid manager has told pupils at Dromore High School and members of the Banbridge Clergy Fellowship at Bannside Presbyterian Church how he survived the country’s earthquake.

Prospery Raymond was at his desk in the Christian Aid office in Port-au-Prince when, at 4.53pm on 12 January 2010, a massive earthquake tore the capital of Haiti apart.

“My chair suddenly pushed me up in the air,” he said. “At the same time I could see the roof coming down on my head. The concrete floor had big waves crossing it, like the sea. I was stuck for one and a half hours, before some passing youths dug me out.”

Prospery says that even though the Christian Aid office was destroyed, the relief work began almost immediately – long before outside help started coming in. The first priority was getting food and other essentials like soap and toothpaste to people who suddenly found themselves homeless.

Later the priority for Christian Aid switched to providing rural families with seeds for planting the following year’s crops. This was because many people from the ruined city had come to live with their relatives in the country, and as a result all their food – including their seeds – had been eaten.

The priority now – two years on from that devastating earthquake which killed more than 200,000 people – is the building of houses. Christian Aid is building a model village and is hoping that other agencies will follow their example. 200 houses have already been built and 400 will be finished by the end of this year. Crucially, the manual labour is provided by the local people themselves and they are also being trained how to be professional builders. The aim is for 2,000 houses to be built.

But as Prospery says, “Even 2,000 houses is less than one per cent of what the country needs. So we are teaching the people how to build.”

Prospery said of his visit to the district, “When I am here, I get inspired as I meet the people who supported us. I would like to thank them for all their hard work.”