A sea of tents, blue everywhere, greeted Sophia Lafontant when she arrived in Haiti a few weeks ago. The longing she had to see the two grandmothers there with whom she shares a close bond—“I wanted to hold them, to have conversations with them,” she said—had grown to an ache in the endless months since the January 12 earthquake ravaged the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Lafontant is a senior organizer and training specialist at Oxfam America where she works on the CHANGE Initiative, a student leadership and advocacy program. She also works with the Oxfam Action Corp, a program for community organizers. In August, Lafontant will become the lead organizer for Haiti based in Washington, D.C. And she’s worn other hats in the five years she’s been with the organization—but not the ones that would have allowed her swift entry into a disaster zone.
But she finally made it in June for a reunion with family members that was both joyous and sobering.
“It rained every single day while I was in Haiti,” Lafontant said. “I could only imagine living in a tent under those circumstances.”
Listen to Lafontant talk about the hardships people continue to endure, their hunger for jobs, and the courage all must summon for the long recovery ahead.