Memories of the Haiti earthquake

Concern staff member Jeanfrenel Tham in Haiti. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Concern staff member Jeanfrenel Tham in Haiti. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
News3 February 2015Deborah Underdown

Jeanfrenel Tham worked with Concern during the Haiti earthquake of 2010. Here, he recounts his memories of the disaster.

When the quake struck

I had just left the office and was driving. Suddenly I felt like the car had passed over a huge stone and had jumped over it. I automatically pressed my brake to stop but the earth continued shaking and there were terrifying noises. Once the earthquake stopped, I continued my journey. My wife called me. I remember her saying: 'Where are you? The country has been destroyed.'

Emergency response

Tham took a lead role in Concern’s response to the 2010 earthquake:

I was guiding the entire Concern emergency team. I was engaged in supervising and implementing the first lifesaving response, including water trucking to the camps that had sprung up to house those displaced and the distribution of essential items such as jerry cans, blankets, tarpaulin and ropes.

I was also involved in coordination with other aid agencies, donors, and the government to reduce the risk of duplication of Concern’s emergency response activities.

Haiti earthquake: five years on

Tham spoke about the changes that have taken place, five years on from the earthquake:

The number living in camps has reduced from 1.5 million in 2010 to 85,000 at the beginning of 2015. This represents unimaginable progress. Moving out of the camps has meant that families can finally move on from the trauma of the earthquake and begin to rebuild their lives. Meanwhile, all efforts must continue to relocate the remaining camp populations.

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