That day, I was teaching a cosmetology class when everything started shaking. I didn’t know what was going on, as I had never experienced anything like that in my life. It was only when I went out and saw dead bodies in the streets that I realized it was an earthquake.
Thank God, there were no victims in my family, but our house was damaged. I was too traumatized to sleep inside any building, for fear of aftershocks, so I took my three children and we went to stay in a camp called Pax Villa, which was named after the crematorium nearby.
We ended up spending two years there, and I really didn’t like it. There were gang members living in the camp, who would rape women and get into fights. Plus we had issues with sanitation and drinking water, and latrines were not properly maintained. Despite these difficulties, I set up a beauty salon in a camp shelter. I had quite a large clientele and, even if I wouldn’t earn much, it allowed me to support my family.
I had several setbacks during the years, and every time I had to find the courage to rebuild. Twice I have tried to set up beauty salons, but both times they got broken into and all my tools were stolen. Then, the earthquake hit us. But I never lost faith.
When I enrolled in the rental subsidy programme, I chose the family reunification option and rented the upper floor of my mother’s house. Now I live here with my three children, my husband, my mom, my sister and her two kids. I also set up a small beauty parlour here.
IOM also offered me to attend professional training. I chose a cooking course, which landed me a part-time job as teaching assistant in a cooking school. My plan is to start a food catering service. With perseverance and hard work, I am sure I will get there.
From Beyond Goudou Goudou: Portraits of Recovery (IOM Haiti)