The Common Good

Haiti: Living and Loving Through Tragedy

100202-edwidge-danticatI was at the supermarket at my home in Florida with my two young daughters when my sister-in-law called to ask if I'd heard that there had been an earthquake in Haiti. I was a bit stunned. "Earthquake?" I said. Are you sure? She said it was 7.0. That didn't quite register for me. Then she said it was catastrophic.

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Like millions of other Haitians in and outside of Haiti, I was nearly out of my mind with worry. Everyone has seen the images. The fallen buildings. The dead bodies covered with sheets on the street. The amputees. We have also seen the resilient Haitian spirit. In their worst hours, people were singing. The world is more intimately acquainted with that Haitian spirit than it has ever been in the past. The best of Haiti has been on display, even as the country continues to suffer.

The standout media image for me is of a little boy named Kiki coming out of the rubble with both his hands raised in the air and a mile-wide smile on his face. I choose to remember that first, but of course there are so many other sad images, of the hands sticking out of the rubble as if reaching toward heaven. The children. The dead children. The orphaned children. The wounded children. As a mother, of course, those images haunt you. That's why Little Kiki was so comforting to see.

Edwidge Danticat, author of six books including Brother, I'm Dying, was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She now lives in the U.S. This is a preview of an article that will appear in the March issue of Sojourners magazine. Click here to receive your free trial of the March issue (which will include this article in full).

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