First Person

Lessons of strength from Port-au-Prince

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Yolette Etienne. Photo by Carolyn Gluck
Yolette Etienne. Photo by Carolyn Gluck

It’s been a week since the earthquake in Haiti. As the media made it to the island late last week, some amazing stories emerged. These are accounts of survival, certainly, but also stories of the incredible strength and perseverance of the people of Haiti who are leading the recovery.  

One of them is about Oxfam’s director in Haiti for the last 10 years, Yolette Etienne. She was in the office when the quake hit, and immediately sought medical aid for colleague and fellow citizen Amadee Marescot, and was with him when he died hours later. Like the rest of our staff, she needed to check on her family, but when she went home she says “I found my house destroyed, and my mom dead…I buried my mom in my garden.” Yet, hours later, she returned to work, organizing one of Oxfam’s biggest humanitarian response programs since the 2004 Asian tsunami.

You can read an excerpt from an interview with Etienne by Carolyn Gluck of Oxfam we just put on our web site, and watch an interview on British television she did at the Port-au-Prince airport (fast forward to 11:29 in this program).

Haitian aid workers have a double burden: they carry their own losses and take responsibility for saving the lives of others.  “We know we will have resources to help people,” Etienne says. “We have no choice but to work harder, because we have the opportunity to help.”

Save lives now by donating to Oxfam’s Haiti Earthquake Response Fund.

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