Feb 3 2010

On the other side

Nelson Figueroa, Santo Domingo project coordinator, shares a Dominican’s view of the earthquake that struck their island.

As you know, our island was jolted by a strong earthquake that affected, above all, our neighboring country of Haiti, especially the city of Port-au-Prince. Seen from this side of the island, the panorama could not be much darker. The latent reality today is that all the hospitals in our country are filled beyond capacity with our injured Haitian brothers and sisters.

From the capital, Santo Domingo, to the border zone that is serving as a bridge for the arriving international help, the hospitals in our country are not only overflowing with patients, but they are also being filled with concerned relatives in search of information about their missing family members.

The day after the earthquake, in Santo Domingo, there was a collective sound of sirens coming in all directions from ambulances, carrying the injured to the health centers. Those with means flew by helicopter to the health center CEDIMART in Santo Domingo and the Metropolitan Hospital in the city of Santiago.

Our country felt the tremor, but it did not affect the physical structures as much as it did the family structures. Hundreds of families have not seen their family members return because many of the Haitian companies they worked for have collapsed. To cite an example, my oldest daughterís classmate lost her father. They heard him alive in the rubble, but he lost his life while they were trying to rescue him two days after the quake. It is estimated that there are hundreds of Dominicans who have died.

The tragedy affects the whole territory, and emotionally, we are all sorrowful. We do not escape the shadow of this catastrophe that has affected our neighbor.

In our territory there have been a variety of fundraising activities, and truthfully, solidarity has overflowed these days, which has helped to alleviate a little of the tension that has always existed between the two countries. People can now be seen hugging each other in pain, united by one cause, forgetting their differences and prioritizing the human being.

Tragedy makes us see that we are all children of the same God, and in our case, connected by a single territory, sharing the same island, and therefore we endure the same suffering. We live sheltered in the hope of ending our disagreements and uniting ourselves as brothers and sisters who share the same rays of the sun.

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