I was visiting parts of my diocese the day before the earthquake. To get to one place I had to cross a lot of rivers. As we crossed one the water was “bubbling” and there were waves. We decided to stay that night at the diocesan training centre in Matean which is near the sea. But during the night waves started to hit the building and I thought “this is a tsunami!”
The next day I returned to Port-au-Prince and ten minutes after I got out of the car the earthquake happened. There was a big bang and the house jumped , and I didn’t even have time to get out of the door before everything calmed down.
Everyone came out onto the street. One of the first things I did was to try and contact my staff and reassure them. I told them not to be frightened and that this was a chance to show solidarity and for people to support one another.
I lost my two and a half month old niece and my brother-in-law in the earthquake. All the people who died didn’t deserve to go so soon. For those of us left, at the moment there is only pain. This is a test for all of us. It won’t last forever, but we have to live through this test with faith so we can come out at the other end more whole.
But I believe that our charity and the way in which we live this crisis will help increase our humanity. It will help us be more generous, open and available to each other, because the symbolic ways of living together has been destroyed. All of the symbols that join us together: the cathedral, the president’s palace, ministries, the schools, religious communities and many more places are in ruins.
Now we have to build again to be able to live together. We have to do it in a way that prejudice and discrimination are done away with and in a way that engenders trust. It must be done in a way that gives rise to solidarity and an open spirit.
I think it gives us the possibility to rebuild our country in another way and understand the bond that binds us together.
We are facing certain questions. At the moment it’s all about the emergency, but one day the questions will be about reconstruction. That doesn’t mean rebuilding things as there where before; instead we have a chance to build a better Haiti in which people are at the heart of everything.