Hope in the Ruins: Helping the Survivors of the Haitian Earthquake

By Leitch, Laurie | Psychotherapy Networker, July/August 2010 | Go to article overview

Hope in the Ruins: Helping the Survivors of the Haitian Earthquake


Leitch, Laurie, Psychotherapy Networker


Hope in the Ruins Helping the Survivors of the Haitian Earthquake by Laurie Leitch

January 12, 2010

As we're bombarded daily with the unending stream of news of fresh catastrophes from around the globe, sometimes it seems like natural disasters take place almost round the clock. I first learned the news about the devastating earthquake in Haiti as I was getting ready to make my sixth visit to Sichuan Province, the site of the 2008 earthquake in China. My colleague Elaine Miller-Karas and I had been going there regularly since the quake to provide training in our biologically-based Trauma Resiliency Model (TRM), which focuses on teaching nervous-system stabilization skills for trauma survivors to local physicians, nurses, counselors, teachers, and first responders.

Once in China, we'd watch the coverage each evening of the Haiti disaster, in which an estimated 230,000 or more people died. There was something surreal about witnessing a country in the acute stage of an earthquake's aftermath on television from a country still dealing with the longer-term effects of the same kind of disaster. We later learned that the people of Sichuan, having themselves experienced what it's like to suddenly lose so much, provided the largest number of contributions for Haiti from all of China.

Within just a few weeks after our return from China, we were invited to Haiti to help deal with the enormous psychological aftermath of the earthquake. What follows will give you some picture of what it's like to set foot in an already impoverished country, in which the difficult conditions of daily life have been transformed for the worse so abruptly.

Late February 2010

As we start developing the plan for our multiphase project in Haiti, I begin researching Haitian history and culture. Once again, I'm embarrassed to realize the extent of my ignorance about other countries. Where was I in geography and world history class? Again and again as we've traveled to other disaster areas, I've come up against my lack of information about the legacy of colonialism and the other sociopolitical forces that have shaped our world. From my reading, I learn that while the popular images of Haiti dwell almost entirely on its desperate poverty, the country was the first created after a revolution by enslaved people of African descent. I discover that even while the United States was refusing entry to European Jews fleeing the Holocaust, Haiti was welcoming them. I find out that although Haiti has been a nation almost as long as the United States, in certain ways, it's still a young country: children under the age of 18 constitute almost half of its population of 9 million.

Arriving in Haiti

As our plane descends into Port-au-Prince, I can see military vehicles, boxes of aid materials, and warehouses dotting the area around the airport. Inside the arrival terminal, a mariachi band is playing as we make our way through the chaotic baggage-claim area into the blazing hot mob-scene outside. UN vehicles, a snaking tangle of cars, and throngs of people jam every inch of space. Dust and automobile fumes are everywhere. Soldiers and UN peacekeepers with automatic weapons patrol the street.

It takes more than an hour before we spot the people who are supposed to meet us. They're holding a sign saying "Welcome TRI," the name of our ­nonprofit group, Trauma Resource Institute. We never go into a disaster setting without a sponsor--an organization with strong ties in and knowledge of the area--and a source of funding. This collaboration between TRI and the sponsor--here in Haiti, it's the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)--helps us contact survivors and potential trainees, and helps assure that whatever we offer will fit with local customs and norms. Breathing sighs of relief when we finally find the crowded UUSC van, we settle in for the three-hour journey to Papaye in the Central Plateau, one of Haiti's poorest rural areas. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hope in the Ruins: Helping the Survivors of the Haitian Earthquake
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.