On the anniversary of Haiti’s earthquake, we bring you to the story of the Haitian Amputee Mothers Alliance (HAMA) and the photography of Sandra Wong Geroux. Sandra, who worked with The Kitchen Sisters for many years, recently travelled with nine other women to the village of Lamardelle where she documented women helped by HAMA; a program created under the non-proft organization Village of Vision for Haiti Foundation (VVHF).
Faced with the pressing needs of the earthquake’s maimed survivors, HAMA plans to take in 100 mothers, 60 of whom are amputees as a result of the earthquake, as well as their children. It aims to provide leading-edge, prosthetic treatment to the amputee women, and the maintenance and support to go with it, so they can resume working and providing for their children. It will do so by leveraging upon the collaborative effort between VVHF and the Peak Prosthetics Design Team in Salt Lake City, UT.
Over the past 25 years, VVHF, founded by Gina and Lucien Duncan, has been developing Lamardelle, a small village community with a population of about 20,000 located near the town of Ganthier in Haiti. VVHF is currently the sole provider of clean water for the community, and it runs a primary school, orphanage, and community clinic to promote the education and health of children and families who live in rural Haiti.
Watch the Slideshow:
Listen to Some of the Women:
Marie Marte Joseph
My name is Marie Marte Joseph. I am 36 years old. Before the earthquake I was a merchant selling products such as corn and rice. I lost my hand during the earthquake on January 12th. On the day of the earthquake I was in a 4th floor building, but all the people living in the building are dead, but I’m very lucky that my four children and I are still alive. It’s a miracle. When it first happened, I thought it was the end of the age and I thought there was no hope. But, since I started to talk to people, I see that there is life, there is hope, life goes on and it is important to live my life.
My name is Chrislene Joseph. I am 20 years old. I am not married and I do not have any children. I was living in a 5-story building in Petionville when the earthquake hit. I was with my cousin at the time and when the building began to shake we tried to get out but it was too late. My cousin and I were buried under the rubble for five days before someone found me; my cousin was dead by that time. I was alive but I had to have my leg amputated. After that, I spent a lot of time crying and thinking that my life was over but now I feel good. I was in the hospital when somebody told me about the program. The foundation told me that I will get an artificial foot and I will be able to do everything I used to do, including playing soccer. The program lasts for 4 months, but I would like it to last forever, because it’s a really good program for us. The nurses and the therapists in this program have taken great care of me and their advice has let me know I can still live my life and be happy.
My name is Islande Dieudone and I am 25 years old. I was a student studying nursing and medical technology. When the earthquake struck I was at school with about 150 other students. The walls all fell down and one fell on my arm. I was stuck under the wall for about a day before someone came to dig me out. They sent me to the hospital where I was told that my hand was completely destroyed and it could not be saved. So, they cut it off. I am lucky to be here, though. Out of the 150 students, less than 10 survived the quake. Most of my classmates are dead. It was really, really terrible. I still live with my mom and I hope that I can finish school soon. While I was going to school I had a small business selling clothes that I made and little things like perfume and stuff so that I could pay for school. I hope that even with my arm being gone I can continue to do all things I used to do. This program is great for me and for all the women who are here, I think. There are nurses to help out and therapist to give advice and when I get my arm I want to go back home and resume my life.
My name is Jacqueline Joseph. I am 50 years old. Before the earthquake I owned a restaurant, a nice restaurant with my husband. I was walking home from the school where I had just left my grandchildren when the earthquake hit. When I arrived home the house had collapsed and my husband was trapped under the rubble. I could hear him crying for me to help him, “Help me, help me. Don’t let me die.” I tried to dig him out of the rubble but a wall fell on me while I was trying to reach him. When the wall fell it almost completely severed my arm right there and then. I just made one small movement and I was free but my arm was left under the fallen wall. I began to run out of the house when another block fell on me and crushed my other hand. I had 12 children. I lost 11 of them to the earthquake. Some of them were schoolteachers. Some of them were business people, but I have not heard from them since the earthquake. I guess that they are dead because if they were alive they would have let me know since it has been 9 months since the earthquake. I lost my children, my husband and my business. Now I have only my last son, who is 15, and my 10 grandchildren. My dream is to get back to work so that I can take care of them. I am the only person that they have now.
Miglene Louis Charles
My name is Miglene Louis Charles. I am 19 years old. I have two children, a 2-year old and the other is 2 months old. During the earthquake I was breast-feeding my baby next to my house. Then the earth was cracking and shaking and I didn’t know it was an earthquake, because it was my first time feeling that. I was trying to run and it was impossible. By running I was falling down with my baby. There was a big block that was going to fall on my baby’s head, so I lied on my baby and the block fell on my back and broke my bone. It was really, really terrible. I had injuries on my feet and other places. People thought I was dead by the way I was. Before the earthquake, I use to sell products like milk, cornflakes, spaghetti and drinks. Now I would like to have some money to start a business in order to take care of my two children. I would also like to be a dressmaker. It would be very good and important for me.
Excerpt from Suzi Gurry’s volunteer story
We were not first responders with medical backgrounds and we did not save lives. We did, however, lift spirits. We were a team of compassionate women who had the time, energy and interest in caring for this small compound in Haiti run by our family friend, Gina Duncan. To be honest, we did what comes naturally to all of us. We played mother and friend to every single soul we met . We held babies. We introduced 2 year olds to the magic of MATCHBOX cars and bubbles. We donated 30 soccer balls and played soccer with toddlers. We built a library for the school. We made beaded necklaces, gave manicures and pedicures and taught YOGA to amputees. We applauded a one legged mother who mastered the warrior pose all on her own. We hugged and held hands. We sang and stumbled along with our French . We put babies to sleep. We let babies cry on our chests as they screamed to be held. We got newborns out of their cribs and walked them outside to feel fresh air on their faces. We pushed kids on broken bikes. We photographed the children, the staff and women in the amputee camp, sharing photos with family and friends of the foundation. (click here to read the rest of her story)
|This multimedia post was created by Patty Fung who has been interning with the Kitchen Sisters for the past seven months. She has been a contributing blogger for the Hidden World of Girls series and has produced multimedia work for the Kitchen Sisters on various projects. Much thanks to Sandra Wong Geroux and the Kitchen Sisters for their support and guidance on this piece.|