Additional Coverage Special Report—Haiti
This story is just one article in our special report on Haiti's women's movement.
We'll be adding more stories in the coming weeks—for now, take a look at other articles in this series.
• Read an assessment of the earthquake's impact on Haiti's women's movement in Honoring the Ancestors.
• Read Didi Bertrand's column, Bearing Witness: Girls and Women in Haiti's Camps.
• Internationally acclaimed author and memoirist Edwidge Danticat on her homeland, post disaster.
• View photographer Nadia Todres's powerful photo essay, Documenting the Lives of Girls in Haiti.
• Take a look at SPECIAL REPORT: Haiti Elections—Why Vote for a Woman? to read interviews with Haiti's three female presidential candidates to learn more about their platforms.
• Read the first story in this series, SPECIAL REPORT: Haiti, Women, and the Elections, which takes an in-depth look at women on the ground and the upcoming elections.
• Read World Pulse and Anne-christine d'Adesky's previous coverage on the earthquake, Holding Up Haiti: Women Respond to Nightmare Earthquake, published shortly after news broke of the devastating earthquake.
Gift of Life
A year after the devastating 7.0 earthquake that shook Haiti, Evelyn Margron recalls her miraculous rescue from a collapsed office building.
In honor of the one year anniversary of Haiti's earthquake, and our ongoing commitment to feature the voices of Haitian women, we present the remarkable story of Evelyn Margron, in her own words. Her voice is a testament to the courage and vision these women bring to their nation. —The Editors
It was January 12, 2010. Around four in the afternoon my boss in Managua, Nicaragua, Mariecke, and I were talking together on Skype. At 4:30, my grandson Matias arrived from school. He always comes to my office and then we go to see my partner Guy before we head home. Mariecke was waving at Matias on the computer screen and Matias was amused. He waved back before sitting across from me to work on a drawing.
The telephone rang. Guy was calling me to remind me that I was late. I had barely placed the telephone back in its cradle when the walls began to shake. In Spanish, I told Mariecke “Terremoto!” In the same breath I yelled to Matias, “Under the table, quickly! Are you alright?”
Later, I realized I had lost consciousness after crawling under the desk.
The earth shook again. As I came to I inspected myself. I was lying on my right side, my right arm pinned tightly to the ground by a wooden beam. I touched the ragged, viscous remains of my right arm with my left arm. I removed my Skype headset, my glasses, my necklace. And the earth trembled again.
“Abuela, are we going to die?”
Matias took me by surprise. “Maybe,” I replied, “but I will do everything in my power to prevent that.”
“I ask for forgiveness from anyone I have wronged, whether I did it or just thought about it.” he said.
“It will be alright,” I told him and myself. “We will get through this.”
I asked him about his body—was he hurt, could he move? His left arm was pinned to the ground near my right arm. I ordered him to pull with all his force to free his arm. If I had to die, at least he could escape. He tried, but the task was too difficult for his small body.
I heard voices. A colleague was trapped and badly hurt on the ground floor of the building, which continued to crumble, for the earth did not cease to groan beneath us. I began to yell in an effort to warn the others that I too was trapped. When they heard me, they asked me to save my energy and be patient while they came to my rescue. I didn’t know how long I could wait. Each aftershock added more pressure to my chest.
After a long while, I heard them extract a colleague, Abdonnel, from the rubble and march away. Matias and I were alone. I did not hear another voice for a long time. I yelled without stopping just in case someone passed by to hear us.
“Callate, abuela!” Matias pleaded. Stop yelling, Grandma. Let’s sleep while we wait for them to save us. I was scaring him. Grandmothers don’t cry, they comfort, they cajole.
“You sleep, Matias. I have to yell so people know we’re here.” I began to yell again. The earth trembled. Matias slept.
I knew I had to rest to conserve my energy. Between yelling “Amwey!” I meditated to empty my thoughts. And I reflected on death.
I thought that soon I could be a number, a statistic. It would be so stupid to die that way, without knowing why, without reason. What was the use of searching for meaning in my life for the past forty years? Is there anything after death? I still didn’t know the answers; I only knew the body in which I wished to continue to live. Should I let go? Would it let me go?
In any case, I had to save Matias. I tried to lift the weight which pinned me to the ground. My left side was in agony. I did not succeed.
Voices in the street. People swarmed. They heard my cries.
“Yes, a child and me.” The light from their flashlight found us. . . .