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WCCCI partner Free The Children on today’s 6.1 aftershock in Haiti

By admin | January 20, 2010

Craig Kielburger speaks about the 6.1 aftershock in Haiti earlier today:

When we awoke to tremors this morning, the initial response was panic.

Our team had spent the night at an orphanage in Carrefour, the original epicenter of last week’s earthquake. Over the last few days, we have been travelling here to deliver food, water and medical supplies.

We have long supported the agency that runs this orphanage. Prior to the earthquake, it was home to mostly boys transitioning off the streets or from jail. Now, it is welcoming children whose parents were lost or injured.

There is a large wall still standing around the compound. The community has started taking shelter in its relative safety.

It’s impossible to get a proper headcount on how many people are here. The three people who run the compound are exhausted. Jeff, the man in charge, said they are working diligently at rationing.

He was extremely thankful when the convoy started to unload fuel for the generators as well as food and water. The kids formed a line to carry the packages to the storage area, sometimes requiring two or three of them to a package.

In the evening, we unrolled our sleeping bags next to the kids on the ground. As a precaution, everyone was staying as much in the open as possible.

As the sun began to rise at around 6 a.m., the ground started to shake.

Immediately, the children jumped up and started to run towards a soccer field. The force of this aftershock was clearly bringing back memories of the week prior. As the structurally unsound walls teetering around them, little ones clutched to kids a few years their senior for protection as they ran.

As the ground rumbled on, two young boys stopped and looked back.

On a mattress that had been pulled from inside lay a boy with his leg in a cast. He was unable to get up on the unstable ground let alone run for safety.

His two friends turned back and ran towards him. Each grabbed a corner of the mattress and half running, half dragging brought the injured boy to safety in the open field.

When the grounds stabilized, we were relieved to find everyone safe. But, this further uncertainty only added to the children’s worry. They were scared for their safety as well as their future in Haiti.

As the morning light brightened the sky, we did our best to reassure them that they were safe. We toured the buildings to see what was still standing.

But, the aftershock confirmed for us something we already believed to be true. While we reassured the kids that physical damage could be repaired and that the rebuilding would start soon, the emotional scars caused by the horrific and often gruesome images they have seen will take much longer to heal.

The kids are all accounted for. But, we had to wonder about other parts of Port-au-Prince. Many were sleeping on steps in front of their homes in order to protect their meager belongings. With many starting to sift through the rubble, they had further shifted walls.

While we haven’t received confirmations, we know with this tremor that more lives will be lost.

The aftershock brought each of them back to the events from one week prior. It left them and us worried about what would happen next.”

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