Thursday, 4 February 2010

Three new little villagers at the SOS Children's Village Santo

In a narrow alley in Port-au-Prince, not far from two large refugee camps: This is where two co-workers of SOS Children's Villages found three little orphaned children. They had caught the attention of a young man in one of the camps, who decided to show us the exact spot. The grandfather of the three little children had sought shelter in the vicinity of a Norwegian school and they were huddled under a plastic tarpaulin.

The three siblings - the one-year old twins Antoine and Anais and the two-year old Noelle* - lived in Port-au-Prince with their mother; their father had passed away a few months before. At the moment the quake hit, all four of them were in the appartment on the first floor. One of the walls collapsed, burying their mother beneath it. When finally help arrived, there was nothing more anyone could do to save her.

Miraculously, the three children were not injured, probably due to their size, which allowed them to survive in small cavities between chunks of collapsed wall. They were saved by their grandfather, who started digging for them with his bare hands right after the quake and was finally able to pull them out from under the rubble. Noelle was slightly injured on the arm during the procedure, the twins were unscathed.

Over the next few days, their grandfather took care of them, with staff members of the Norwegian school helping him as best they could. But he is old and poor and couldn't possibly take care of three children by himself.

Noelle still screams for her Mama. When the car that was to take them to the SOS Children's Village started to drive off, they all froze and started crying. The shaking motion had instantly taken them back to the terror of the earthquake.

*Names altered to protect the children

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