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One Year and Nine Months Ago

October 12, 2011

Written by Carrie Petersen, a member of the medical team working in Haiti:

We arrived safely in Haiti today. After traveling for more than 20 hours, we ate a hearty meal and are now resting for tomorrow.

On the drive to our final destination today, we took a right turn onto a road that I’d never noticed before. We drove about 200 yards uphill to a spot where the ground leveled off. The ground was covered with small rocks, and green bushes were taking over the land. It was a memorial for the victims of the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. On that spot, under those rocks, thousands of earthquake victims had been buried – buried in one mass grave and without any markers. At the time it had been a burial of necessity.

Sometime after the earthquake and the burial, a memorial appeared on the site. There are no road signs or large statutes or even a permanent marker. But the visitor who turns down the unsuspecting road will see hundreds of black wooden crosses about two feet tall placed among the rocks. Some of the crosses are standing but most have fallen down – I suppose they have been knocked down by wind and rain and time. Among the crosses are wreathes and higher up on the hill stands a large cross draped with purple cloth.

I don’t know who is responsible for the memorial. I only know that it was a privilege to visit there today. To remember all of the lives that were lost one year and nine months ago today.

Before loading into the vehicles to continue our journey, we stopped to say a prayer. To summarize our prayer, which was all that needed to be said: God be with the survivors.

Postscript: Almost two years later, the effects of the earthquake are still visible here in Haiti. Today it was seen in a man with one leg standing on the side of the road in Port-au-Prince, a crumpled building that has yet to be rebuilt, and the thousands of makeshift shelters that have become homes to the homeless.

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