Journalism had me leaving my home, and just out of university, I was journeying across the globe. I saw a different way of life, more often than not, filled with poverty and suffering. However, they still had comforts, such as the love of family. Haiti was no exception.

Odette, my beautiful Haitian home stay, wove in between the houses, a mosaic vase balanced precariously on her head of silken chocolate, forever giving me the impression that it would fall and break into a million shards. However it never did as she carefully chose her path, avoiding any potholes or randomly left objects. Although the creek’s water ran murky, Odette filled her vase swiftly, before she turned toward me and together we made our way back to her home, on the outskirts of Haiti.

Her house was in its usual shambles. Odette’s younger sister Nastassia ran around squealing with delight, having escaped her Mama. I followed Odette inside and together we walked towards the kitchen. Odette was like the sister I never had, as was Nastassia who, within minutes waddled up to us, having fallen over. I loved Nastassia also and I took pity on her, scooping her up and calming her tears. Nastassia settled onto my hip as Odette and I began making Pain Patate, a beautiful Haitian dessert.

Nastassia lay asleep in my lap as I devoured the remaining sweetbread Odette and I had made earlier. Odette’s entire family had arrived for tea, which had Mama delighted that not only had we made a delicious sweet, but we had managed to quiet Nastassia for the rest of the afternoon. Odette gently took her sister from me as we excused ourselves to where she, Nastassia and I all slept. I would write my piece for the newspaper tomorrow, once Odette’s family had parted. For now, I could sleep.

All of a sudden the entire house shook, as if the whole world was shifting. Nastassia began to scream and Odette was instantly at her side, scooping her and grabbing me by my hand. We were outside the house, just as the whole building collapsed. Odette and I found ourselves screaming out names of those that may have still been inside. Soon we were joined by neighbours and friends as they too let out cries of pain and loss. All around us was chaos. The chaos caused by the earthquake that shook Haiti.

Odette, Nastassia and I, exhausted by the sobs that had been shaking out body for hours on end, fell asleep on the sidewalk, which was now clustered with bodies, alive and dead. The house was nothing but a pile of rubble and I had no hope for those Odette and I called family. I grasped Nastassia’s and Odette’s hand in a promise to make a home for us elsewhere. We three girls walked away from Haiti, taking with us but a few beautiful memories of family, friendship and the night that destroyed it all.


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