Woman smiling in front of camera

From fear to gratitude

Ema lost her appetite. She felt fearful and overwhelmed. She and her children suffered from anxiety for months after the earthquake in Haiti in August 2021 because their home was damaged and they were forced to sleep outside.

“The nights after the earthquake were very difficult,” she says. “We were under the stars and sometimes the wind was so strong that the flapping of the tarps prevented us from sleeping.

 “People who live under tarps are exposed to danger because at any moment they can be victims of all kinds of bad things, because you already know how the security situation is in Haiti.”

Ema Thémistoc is a 51-year-old married mother of four. She and her husband do everything they can to provide for their children. Together they grow peas, yam, and corn, and raise goats and pigs, and Ema has a small business selling cosmetics and personal care products.

When the earthquake struck just 50 km from Ema’s home in Grand’Anse, Haïti, it destroyed a large section of their home, and animals from their farm – which represented the families’ savings – were swallowed up by the landslides.

In fact, Grand'Anse was one of the regions most affected by the earthquake. In addition to the severe loss of life and injuries in Grand'Anse, there was significant damage to homes, health facilities, schools, churches, and other public and administrative buildings. Critical infrastructure, including the national highway and bridges were severely damaged or impassable due to landslides, major cracks, and collapses. Local markets and shopping centres were also destroyed or severely damaged.

CARE was already present in the Grand’Anse department, and was able to provide emergency assistance quickly to the people who needed it most. Thanks to support from the Humanitarian Coalition, Ema and her family received cash transfers and housing vouchers to purchase materials to repair their house. They also took training on sustainable construction and repair techniques, in order to “build back better.”

Now she and her husband are working their garden, and slowly repairing their home. And although things have still not returned to the way they were before, Ema’s anxiety is gone. She says what she feels now is happiness … and gratitude for the help she received.