A catastrophe by its very nature is almost impossible to fathom, and the results of the earthquake in Haiti fit that category. There is so much destruction…so many injuries and deaths… How does one make sense of it?
For me, it became real in the story of an 11-year-old girl, a child who was trapped for hours in the rubble of her home. I didn’t know her name or anything else about her…just that she had–for the moment at least–survived the earthquake.
And her plight caught the attention of many. I think for many of us, she became the face of the thousands of nameless others whose fates we could not comprehend.
I shuddered when the news indicated that there was a possibility that her leg might have to be amputated in order to extricate her, but I also thought that at least she had a chance. And when the story came that they had decided they did not need to amputate it–and the exciting news came that she had indeed been extricated–I felt a sense of hope and joy.
Then the story continued. It wasn’t one of those “happily ever after” stories. Yes, she was pulled from the wreckage of her home–but her injuries were too severe, and she simply was not able to survive…not without more advanced medical help that she was unable to access in a timely manner.
For me, that’s the face of the tragedy in Haiti. There are over 100,000 stories like hers…so many that it’s hard to fathom–until something happens and we see a face that makes it real.