On her way home to the SOS Children's Village Santo, SOS Children's Villages mother Francoise found three children amid the rubble.
Just a few days after the great earthquake, SOS Children's Villages mother Francoise finally made it home to Carrefour Feuilles, a suburb of Port-au-Prince situated some 30 kilometres from Santo, to check on her grown-up son. He was mercifully uninjured, but his house had been destroyed.
On the way home to the SOS Children's Village in Santo, Francoise noticed three little children crouching between several heaps of rubble right next to the street. There was a girl lying on the ground crying, two little boys sat next to her. At that moment, there was no doubt for her: "I had to help. I am an SOS Children's Villages mother through and through; and have been for more than ten years. I knew right away that these children needed help, just as I knew that I was the person to help them and that I would make them part of my SOS family", she says with tears in her eyes.
Neighbours told her what had happened to the three children. The siblings Mathilde*, age three, and her brother Tom*, age seven, had lost their father, their mother and their brother in the quake. They spent the whole first night after the quake sitting next to their dead family. The five-year old Paul*, a boy from the neighbourhood and friend to Mathilde and Tom, had also lost his parents.
"It was heartbreaking", says Francoise, "they were hungry and crying… I couldn't just keep on walking". She made up her mind right there and then - she took the girl in her arms and started walking, the boys just followed. They had to walk for quite a while before they could catch a bus that brought them to Santo. Mathilde is often overwhelmed by her pain, her brother can talk a bit more about the terrifying seconds of the quake. "Everything was shaking, and there was a terrible noise. We were scared and just ran and ran and ran". Neither will say a word about the time right after the earthquake.
Francoise is glad to have taken the children with her: "They're safe here and have all they need. They can sleep and have a healthy appetite. The rest of us here at house number 13… well, we just huddle up to make room".
*Names altered for reasons of privacy