The people of Port-au-Prince have been through so much and to come and ask questions about it, I wanted to be sensitive about re-opening wounds. Sometimes you photograph or interview people and they will never see the end result or even directly benefit from them. Nevertheless, all the people I have interviewed all over the world have been incredibly patient and giving. Sergeline answered my questions, but we did not become friends. I was a stranger enquiring about her deepest pains. She did smile as I played with her son. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Photo by Esther Havens.
“I was sitting like this, and now I see something coming and hear ‘goudougoudougoudou’ – when I got up to run, I fell down and kept falling and could not get up again. I saw many blocks come over me and they all fell on me and crashed on my entire face, all over my feet – all broken… I am three fourths dead already.”
Even before the earthquake shook Sergeline’s house down on top of her, her family abandoned her because they didn’t approve of the father of her unborn baby. After the earthquake, the man abandoned her too. She was alone and suffered major injuries, but, miraculously, the baby inside her was still alive. The organization that treated her immediately after the earthquake referred her to Heartline to recover and deliver her child. She gave birth to a boy at Heartline’s maternity center in April 2010 and named him Jobens.
After living at Harbor House for more than a year, Sergeline and Jobens have flourished. Harbor House has a range of self-empowering projects to engage the mothers living there. There are chickens in the back laying eggs, a pond full of fish and a garden on the roof for Sergeline to grow vegetables of her choice. She’s also incredibly bright; a tutor comes every day to teach her advanced studies. Jobens, rarely seen without his toothy smile, just celebrated his first birthday with his new family. Sergeline lost her house in the earthquake, but she found a home with Heartline.
“I give God many thanks. I would like to stay here until I can find a job, until I find someone who can take care of me and take care of Jobens… or I’d like to stay here forever, all the time, because I feel good.”