In Commemoration: 8th Anniversary of Haiti's Earthquake

This is Sadrak's moving story, in his own words.
January 31, 2018 - Haiti

Fr. Richard "Rick" Frechette visited to do a commemoration mass at the memorial at former St. Damien's Hospital in Petion-Vile.

Eight years ago, a massive earthquake hit Haiti, killing up to 220,000 people, injuring up to 300,000 and displacing 1.5 million. The 2010 earthquake left a huge scar on the national psyche that will take many generations to heal.

One of those affected by this catastrophic event was Sadrak Sauveur, a Special Needs Program employee. This is Sadrak's very moving story in his own words.

One Person, One Day, One Story:

"I'm Sadrak Sauveur. I was born on October 3rd, 1986 and I grew up in Castro village, close to the airport.

Before the earthquake, a terrible day of mourning for all Haitians, I was living with my parents in Port-au-Prince. I was 23-years-old and in my third year of an economics and law course at a university in Gona´ves. My college held classes in Port-au-Prince.

On Tuesday, the 12th of January 2010, I was walking around doing normal things. I always went to Titanyen on Tuesdays to buy food and supplies for my mother, who had a business selling those things. So I did that. Then I came back to Port-au-Prince for a 1 p.m. lecture in a building opposite the National Palace. The building had three floors; my classroom was on the second one. The class was supposed to last for three hours. Everything about that day was perfectly normal.

At around 4:45 p.m. I heard a loud noise, like a bulldozer, and our building started to tremble. It didn't even cross my mind that this could be an earthquake, but I started to run. The building was shaking so badly that it was difficult to move. I saw a room where everything had collapsed, but I didn't have time to think about that before I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I saw that the ceiling had fallen in on me, and I was trapped. Other students around me were crying and begging Jesus to help them.

I started to remove the rubble around me so that I could breathe. I tried to move my head and make my way out of the debris. Other students cried out because my movements caused them pain, and the dust that I created made it hard for them to breathe. I had to make a split-second decision; stop working to spare others or keep working and put others at risk. I didn't move again.

All I did was pray. The families of other students arrived. I heard them weeping and saying that there was no hope for the survivors trapped in the rubble. That included me. I got very upset when I heard that. Another group of people arrived. They did everything possible to free me, but they couldn't manage it. We were thirsty and asked for water, but they didn't have any. A female student was so parched that she asked me to spit in her mouth. I couldn't move to help her. Later, her parents arrived to find her dead.

I stayed in the rubble on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, I realized I was lying on another student, who was also trapped. My older brother Mackendy arrived and I shouted, 'You're the only one who can save me now!' He started to cry, because he wasn't sure that he really could save me. He gave me drinks for energy and tried to remove the rubble around me, but it didn't work and he had to leave to look for help. The only hope I had then was in Jesus.

On Wednesday night, I stared death in the face. When another survivor saw the bodies around him, he talked about just giving up and killing himself. I told him we would go straight to hell if we did that. Demolition gangs came and went and still they couldn't free me. I began to feel so much pain that I asked God to let me die. On Thursday morning, more people arrived. They were working to free the student underneath me; they had to walk over where I was trapped to do that. I gathered all my strength and tried to help them. I pulled him up and out by his trousers.

On Thursday, there was another tremor - a strong aftershock. I heard the voice of my good friend Abner. He said, 'God, I've come to save a life. Protect mine while I do it.' It was a joyful moment of immense relief.

Abner got to work. He managed to free my feet and pull me out. Then he brought me to a clinic that he worked in, called Haiti Medicare. It was Thursday afternoon when I started to get medical treatment. Infection had set in to my legs, so I was advised to go directly to the Dominican Republic for urgent medical attention. My family and I left straight away.

We went to a hospital in a town called Jimani, where I saw other earthquake victims, who were also very seriously injured. The Dominican doctor checked my legs and asked me to move them. I couldn't. He passed a scarf over my legs, but I didn't feel a thing. My brother Mackendy was crying; he knew what that meant but he couldn't accept it. The thought that I could lose my legs troubled me very much. I wondered what would become of me.

But God strengthened me. I thought about it and agreed to a double leg amputation. On Friday night, I was transported to a hospital in Santo Domingo where the surgery was carried out. I spent months there recuperating, with the financial support of a very generous Columbian family that we met, quite by accident. They run a charity called Help 2 Haiti. Then I returned to live in Titanyen with my mother. I had many dark moments there; we were living in a tent and the area was very exposed and windy.

That was a terrible time in my life, but I knew, like it says in the Bible, that God would not abandon any child of his. Two Psalms gave me great comfort at that time: Psalm 23 which says 'He restores my soul' and Psalm 46 which says 'God is for us a refuge and a haven, an eternal relief, even in the days of our distress.' These beautiful words taught me that I could face my circumstances and learn to overcome them.

I was hoping to walk again, so I inquired about physical therapy. I was directed to the NPFS Haiti physical therapy center at Kay Gabriel. At that time, the center did not offer physical therapy to adults, but my reason for finding Kay Gabriel soon became clear. I met Gena Heraty, a wonderful woman with a mother's heart. She offered me a job at Kay Ste. Germaine. Two years after the earthquake, I entered the workforce for the first time. Today my life is totally transformed."

Sadrak works as an Accounts Assistant at Kay St. Germaine alongside his brother Mackendy, who is Head of Human Resources and Child Protection. Sadrak completed an accounting degree at University INUKA in Tabarre in 2017. He is currently studying for international licensing exams. Sadrak is a very popular member of our staff. He's known for his efficiency, politeness and truly radiant smile. We salute his beautiful, strong and very Haitian spirit.

Tracy Keogh   
Communication Manager at Kay Germaine (Special Needs Program)




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