First Person: One year on from Haiti earthquake, time to return home |

“When the earthquake happened, I didn’t know what it was because I had never experienced something so big and dramatic before. I thought it was an act of God and I was terrified.

My whole house shook so my daughter and I ran outside to see what was going on, and I realized it was an earthquake from the ground. Then part of my house collapsed, and large cracks appeared in the callused brick walls.

The temporary camp opened in Devirel four days after the August 2021 earthquake.

UN Haiti / Daniel Dickinson

The temporary camp opened in Devirel four days after the August 2021 earthquake.

Community has come together

We were lucky, because no one in my family was injured, but I know many neighbors who died. The community, being rural, consists of farmers and people who buy and sell goods, come together and we help each other. We have saved many children by digging them from beneath the rubble.

I think the earthquake made us stronger as a community and that helped us when we moved to this makeshift camp in Devirel, on the edge of Les Cayes, just five days after we moved in. I ran away from home.

Life here is very difficult. We live in small houses made of plastic panels. It is hot because there are no trees here and when it rains it is very muddy. There wasn’t much to eat, but we continued to take care of each other and share the little food we had.

UN support

When we arrived, we received a lot of support from the United Nations*. We received a toiletries kit and were able to use a bathroom that had been built for us. I received some cash payments so I could pay for my daughter’s schooling and there was a time when she received free school meals.

My aunt also received some financial support because she is disabled and particularly vulnerable. I am very grateful for this support.

Sometimes, I can earn money by helping to harvest the crops of my neighbors, but it is difficult to find a job so I have to live very little. It’s hard to change someone’s life if you don’t have enough money to do it. I want to go back to my home with my daughter, but I’m too scared to do that before I fix it. So I’ll try and save some money for a fix.

A year after the earthquake, I am still optimistic about the future; I know I can rely on myself and my community for a better life.”

* A variety of United Nations agencies have supported Plaisimond Milaure and her neighbors, including cash transfers to vulnerable and disabled people as well as supporting children’s schooling ( International Organization for Migration, IOM) cleaning kit (IOM and UNFPA) bathroom amenities (UNICEF) and school meals, the World Food Program, WFP. United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) coordinates the UN’s post-earthquake response.

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