January 28th, 2010

After more than two weeks, a life saved in Haiti

This sort of story is the reason rescuers will not give up, even though it’s been over two weeks since the quake:

A 16-year-old girl has been pulled out of the rubble in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, 15 days after the earthquake struck, rescuers say.

Workers heard a faint voice while clearing away some rubble, and in only an hour they had freed the extremely weak and dehydrated teenager, Darlene Etienne. She is reported to have survived because she was trapped in an air pocket in a bathroom where she was able to drink water from a bathtub.

The mind resists the idea that there are probably many more such stories that will never be told, because the people involved have either died already (or are now dying) despite their heroic and lengthy efforts to survive.

And what of Darlene and her extraordinary ordeal? Although the physical suffering must have been dreadful—and probably required tremendous self-control on her part to ration the remaining water over time, not knowing when (or if) she might ever be rescued—the psychological strength she needed to survive an experience of such profound terror and isolation is almost unimaginable.

6 Responses to “After more than two weeks, a life saved in Haiti”

  1. csimon Says:

    You’re right, neo. I can’t even imagine being in such a situation: alone, no awareness of time (I assume the bathroom in which she was trapped had no window (or was left w/ no window after the quake) so no view of daylight passing into night… Even if she did see this, I imagine after a couple days q loses that awareness.

    She obviously had an enormous will to live to not have succumbed to the growing weakness of her body. I think I would have just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up in those last days. I’m not sure what the psychological effects of starvation and dehydration have on the brain, but surely there is some loss of normal function.

    I love my religion but am no fanatic, but this is one of those times when I believe G-d had a guiding hand…there is some reason this woman was kept alive (as was the 69-yr. old woman the day before, the children a couple days before that, etc.) He acts in his own mysterious ways. This belief is what helps me accept some of the disasters that occur like the Tsunami, this Earthquake, 9/11 etc. I just have to believe that their is some power greater than our individual selves. The occurence of the disasters might suspend such belief, but for me, it allows me to think there is some Reason, something maybe we will never know that takes so many innocent lives… I can scoff at evangelical claims of vengeance, punishment for mankind’s sins…. Then there are many who lose their faith in such situations. But I do believe in — no, I think I WANT to believe that there must be some reason somehow, somewhere….. In such situations, many question faith or turn against it, and I understand that. My acceptance is my way of moving forward and helping in whatever way possible (even if contributions is the only manner in which I can do so).

    Interestingly enough, when I was in school, I was fascinated with Existentialism which is based on the premise that every person has control of their own lives and in every moment they make choices which direct the path of their lives. i.e. that they are the sole arbiters of their own destinies.

    Fascinated yes, but my logical mind always would go back to Fatalism — that, in fact, our lives are somehow pre-destined.
    By what or by whom I cannot say. But such predetermination is surely set by some greater power. (?) That is the way I have been able to get past the (unfortunately) many obstacles and black luck I have encountered during my lifetime, and continue to endure. I believe you just accept what is, and do the best with tough situations that you can.
    (That’s not to say there are never momets of “Why me?!”, “Why us?!” But staying and obssessing, in those difficult times never move you past them. Some self-pity is OK so long as you don’t let it takeover your life. And maybe that same self-pity is what enables one to have empathy for others in difficult times.

  2. SAB Says:

    The human spirit is an awesome and durable mechanism.

  3. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    It would be interesting to interview this young woman when she has recovered and find out what transpired within her during this near death experience.

    Like csimon I have faith in an all powerful Force/Being/Entity/God/or?? It seems that most of us are separated from this Force until some deeply moving experience brings us into contact with it. For me it was the depths of grief over the death of our son. The grief was so painful I felt I was going to die. It felt as if I was descending into an abyss that I could not avoid. Out of the blue, I suddenly felt a sense of love spread through me like an all encompassing fever. It was plain to me that I was enveloped by a comforting, healing force that assured me that as I was loved and so was our son. It was a transcendental experience that lasted for several weeks. I walked in Grace and knew some Power was there for me. Some people call this a Peak behind the curtain of eternity.

    Since that time I have talked with others who have had similar transcendental experiences. They always occured when the person was in deep spiritual or psychic pain. A couple of them experienced Grace just before they attempted to kill themsleves. One person experienced it while taking a non-fatal 1000′ fall down a glacier.

    When someone survives against all odds like this young woman, I wonder if they were experiencing a sense of a Power watching over them, urging them to hang on, telling them they are loved so deeply. Possibly the communication comes only as the transmission of an indomitable will to live.

    I have experienced Grace several times since that first time. It always comes unexpectedly at a time of spiritual need. Much as I would like to be in a state of permanent Grace, it never lasts, and cannot be willed into existence – at least by me. While it lasts it is vey nurturing and inspires a deep sense of awe. It’s an unconventional faith, though I have met others who share it, so, it might not be a universal experience of God/the Force/or??, but it isn’t uncommon either. I don’t know what it might say about existentialism or fatalism. To me it says only that we are loved by a Force/God beyond our understanding. For me that is enough.

  4. LisaM Says:

    J.J. I’m very sorry for the loss of your son. Your post was touching and enlightening. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  5. jon baker Says:

    Stories have been emerging of Muslim’s who convert to Christianity sometime after a man in white clothes appears to them in some sort of vision.

    But back to the rescue thing in Haiti. Note this Jan 18th article that states that Texas Task Force 1, a premier search and rescue team, was told to stand down : “But the United Nations mission in the country has declared the search and rescue teams already in the nation are sufficient to handle to the task and the Texas team and others prepared to deploy would not be needed.”

    Jan 18th- thats the beginning of last week!

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/headline/metro/6821324.html

  6. camojack Says:

    WOW. That is all…

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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