Marie Shantal’s story: a very bad day in Haiti

Posted on December 30, 2011 by VMMissions Staff

Eight-year-old Marie Shantal went to school just like the other children in her middle class Haitian neighborhood on that fateful day in January 2010. But, as she walked home from school with her friends, the ground began to shake. Buildings fell around her. Thousands of people ran, screaming, into the streets! She got separated from her friends as she ran home, in fear, to see her mother and baby brother. She arrived to find that her house was only a pile of rubble. She frantically screamed for help. Her desperate cries were drowned out by the deafening after-shocks and the cries of injured people and mourners. So, she dug through the piles of debris searching, hoping. Finally, late in the night, she dropped to the ground in exhaustion, and cried herself to sleep.

The next day, she was awakened by her uncle who confirmed her fears—her mother and brother were dead. His house had crumbled also, leaving him with three young children. He asked Marie Shantal to help him care for them. They walked with the throngs of people carrying a few things they had recovered, toward some open land outside the city, where it was rumored that they could get tents, blankets and food.

Now, almost two years later in the tent city, Marie Shantal spends hours each day going to a contaminated stream to bring water back for her uncle and the children, who she cares for, to the best of her ability. An aid agency said they need to boil the contaminated water if they don’t use bottled water, but they cannot afford to buy water. She sends the children to gather twigs, but they are scarce, because there are hundreds of thousands of people living in this new slum. So, she only has enough twigs to cook with and is unable to boil the brown water.

Although the day of the earthquake was a very bad day, now every day is a bad day for Marie Shantal and the rest. There are many similar stories like Marie’s unfortunate situation. They know that there is more ahead of them like each day they’ve experienced so far.

The Haiti Project Management Group which works under the umbrella of Virginia Mennonite Missions is organizing well-drilling projects in various places in Haiti. A drilling rig has been purchased and retrofitted and two operators are hired and trained. One of the drillers, Jean Pierre, was killed in a car accident in September. Another person needs to be hired to fill this role. Recently Joe Arbaugh, Sr., Stuarts Draft, and John Schaefer, Linville, visited a well-drilling site and found the work progressing normally.

Penny Power funds collected at the 2011 Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale benefited sand dams in Tanzania and well-drilling in Haiti, both projects dedicated to providing clean water for persons in desperate need. The total funds of $36,677 surpassed the goal, and now VMM has $18,000 to use in drilling wells for clean water. Thank you for your strong support of Penny Power this year!

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A Haitian tent city, many of which remain nearly two years after the devastating earthquake in January 2010.
USG photo.

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