Audioburst Search

The Heart of Haiti

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Hundreds of thousands of people were buried alive when a major earthquake struck Haiti on January. Great twelve twenty ten as Catherine Puerto reported on how the poorest nation in the western hemisphere faced impossible odds she got to know a two year old girl who survived five to six days before being rescued this miracle child would become a symbol of hope and a focus of Catherine's work in Haiti and of her book. A girl girl named lovely Kathryn Porter. Welcome hi thanks for having me. Yeah now this must have been an amazing thing. You get the GIG. They send you down right after the earthquake in and new fly from comfortable Toronto into this nightmare refresh our memory about the earthquake that devastated Haiti in two thousand ten. The earthquake a was quite low on on the Richter scale comparatively was only seven point zero but in a place like Haiti where there are no building codes that are followed that people have built up without any engineers in place in many cases into valleys on health hops where they really should be building it just meant complete devastation. Huge Swath of the the city had crumbled and buried people alive and because so much of the country was centered in port-au-prince the capital most of the hospitals are there most of the universities in meant. Then look the mass braintrust of the country had also been buried alive. The rates of death were enormous. Ms and they're GONNA ask thirty five seconds but the toll it played on. That country was destroyed. Matic when I arrived at to see like what it looks like waterfalls all on every side of the road in terms of the rubble and bodies Lying in body bags on the side of the road people were walking hang around with toothpastes under their nose because the stench of death was so ripe It was like a you know a built-in little air freshener above their above with their lips. So that they could not smell it you talked about. The main hotel collapsed like an accordion. Yeah there was this huge hotel where in fact a lot of Canadians gins had just gotten out of their mini vans from the airport and settled into this hotel called the hotel Montana. It was kind of place where when people from the UN or for any kind of development group or a big company looking to invest. That's where you would go and meet. It had this beautiful view and pool looking over over the whole city and then down to the ocean and it just completely collapsed. More than one hundred people were killed there and The thing about this type of destruction as that makes you sort of reflect on how these we split second decisions of. I talked to someone who stepped into a store to buy something and she lost her arm and her leg now if she had decided to continue you walking and walk to another store five minutes down the road she might not have had that tragedy happened to her. You wrote about the homeless kids that were I mean the country and we had lots of homeless kids anyways but suddenly they've got no place to go. What what was your impression when you first were exploring the city's about all these kids that were just unattached? It was so overwhelming the damage there were these giant signs all over made it a bed sheet saying SOS we need help and there were lots of people who were separated from their families is still like. I said someone would have stepped outside. The House went down. They don't know if everyone in their family had died. Of course you worry mostly mostly about the kids and you know soon. After the earthquake there were a bunch of missionaries who were thinking they were saving some orphan kids and trying to take them across the border and in fact most of those kids had add family members and the thing about orphanages in Haiti is they're really poor boarding schools so many of the people in their their parents cannot afford to feed them so they send them mm to this orphanage and there's never really planned for them to be adopted so even before the earthquake like the level of poverty and malnutrition and illiteracy and kids with just heart heartbreaking. Then you add an earthquake on top of it and you go to all these makeshift clinics in the city where people are deriving from outside. They're coming from the Dominican Republic with duffle bags of medications looking to help and they set up these little clinics here and there on the side of the road and so sometimes kids were delivered to them with no idea of who you know who their parents were. What neighborhood they were from if the people delivering them were Haitian they could give the information but if the person who was taking the notes or even had paper to take notes was not Haitian and did not speak creole? Then there'd be no paper trail on these people So there was a real fear at the beginning that some of these kids would be preyed upon and there was already a system. That kids in Haiti are stolen kidnapped taken across sold into brothels into the Dominican Republic or sold basically basically into indentured labour and so there was just a huge concern at the beginning of. What would happen to these children? Catherine Porter's telling us how the people of Haiti survived following the devastating earthquake of twenty ten. Her journalism assignment brought her into the life of a two year. Old Girl whose survival in the rubble was nothing. Things short of a miracle book is called a girl named Catherine. This must have spent overwhelming in a lot of people have reported departed on Haiti and the poverty there. And what makes your reporting really intimate. Is the story of you meeting this amazing girl the Miracle Child. Can you tell us about lovely the main character in your book. A girl named lovely so lovely was too when I met her. She had been rescued from the rubble six days after the earthquake and delivered this little makeshift clinic. That was being run by some doctors. There's with meds on demand and some people with a Dominican civil defense and a whole bunch of other random people that fly into disasters to help some tom that are equipped with skills. That you would be helpful after earthquake and some that. Just come because they feel this need to to witness and offer hope and and so she was this little kid and She was too although to me. You know when I met her I had a three year old and a one year old at home that I had left and she has had the poison my three year old but she was a size of my one year old really small scrawny kid. Everyone told me that it was a miracle that she survived because really it is unheard of to last six days under the rubble without water. Particularly where food as a such a small size and they figured she was orphaned. A No one knew what happened to her parents. People were just glomming around her. The first time I met her I I was looking at her. To See signs of the trauma she'd been through and the Doctors Kris told me that she had malnutrition and dehydration and parasites. But there were no broken. Bones or lacerations or other signs signs that she had suffered through an earthquake except for when she arrived she was covered in dust and she was despondent crying for a a number of days so one of the the people who flew in from Montreal basically just hugged her and took care of her and held her for two days. A human rescue blanket hit and I realized the role. Those people play after disaster. You know everyone I think around. Her was flocking to her because she was kind of the symbol bowl of the country's fragility here. Was this little two year old kid. They thought she was orphaned. She lived through hell and what was going to happen to her but to me. There's something very hard about lovely Blais. She is a survivor. She's tough she's got us like an old lady soul. You know when she looks at you she looks right into you and she does not try and please. He's her admirers. She's not like my daughter who's always playing to the crowd. She doesn't really kind of indifferent to whether you like her or not and so I felt like she was symbol of of resilience more a different symbol of Haiti. Of just you know people who can make it through horror and get the other side because she was

Coming up next