One Wolverine survived the 2010 Haiti earthquake


Loude-Naelle Sainthaude

Not yet! Not now!


My auntie was yelling for me to hurry up and get out of the house.

When I opened the door, the stairs were gone.

It was Jan. 12, 2010.

I thought I was going to die. An earthquake tested my limits. I wanted to give up right then and there, and die, peacefully.

 I talked to my mother that day thinking it’s the last time I would hear her voice.

My mother left me in Haiti when I was just 2 years old. She went to the Bahamas to make some money, so I can have a better life. I met her for the first time 4 months later, after the earthquake.

 As I closed my eyes, before jumping out of the building that was crumbling beneath my feet, I imagined the worst case scenario. I was the only child at that time. My mom only had me. When I spoke to her, I said mom I want you to have another child just in case I don’t make it out alive.

 I’m thinking I won’t survive and will never see my family ever again. But that’s not what the good Lord had planned for my life.

As I take my first step to jump, I was scared. Neighbors were   waiting for me to jump from this third-story window.

At first, I said I’m not going to jump. Then the building shook, and I snapped out of it.  I looked down and decided I was not ready to die.

I said, “Not yet, not now.”

 The building crashed down at the same time my feet left the window sill.

 I thought I was dead. But I was not. I hurt my back and it is still messed up today.  Sometimes I cannot sit straight in a chair.

  I was breathing. I was ok. That night everyone had to sleep at a nearby park. The ground shook. My cousin on the other hand was not as lucky as me.

A brick fell on his hand. All the skin on his arm was gone. But at least, he was alive, right?

I did not eat for a week because there was no food available to feed everyone. As a kid for most of my life I had live in poverty while in Haiti. For days, I would starve and not be able to eat anything, every single day I am wondering how I am still living. I moved around from house to house. While I live in Haiti one of my uncles never treated me right, I would always get beat for sucking on my thumbs and he never treated me right especially around his own kids.

One Saturday afternoon, I went to church with my other uncle that afternoon. I told him I wanted to move. I told him I’m not safe and I am not happy. That his brother, my uncle, was not treating me right.  He helped me pack my stuff and brought me and all my things to his house. I was happy there. I had the best uncle ever. He treated as one of his own kids.

A couple months later, my birthday came around. That morning, my uncle left the house to go buy me a cake. But as he was coming back, he got into a motorcycle accident and he did not come back home for days. When he came home he had something white wrapped around his head I looked at him and here I was crying because I keep thinking it’s my fault that he got hurt in the first place. But things happen for a reason, right?.

Six months after the earthquake, I got news that I would see my mother and that I am going to be living in the United States.

 On Aug. 12, 2010 I was put on a plane leaving my family behind to go live in America. When I met her for the first time, I just looked at her as if I felt no emotions, she was crying while looking at me. After all, she has not seen me in years. We went on with our day. She was happy to see me. But I, on the other hand, I had no emotions.  I didn’t really know who she was. All I knew was that she is my mother, the woman I spoke to on the phone. It was different face to face.

Fast forward to 4 weeks later, in America. My little sister was born. I remember asking my mom to have another child while I was in Haiti. But, when she was born, I had no emotions at all. Me and my sister do not have the same father. I never knew who my father was. Meanwhile, my sister’s dad I never liked. Just because he was with my mom, he thinks he has the right to hit me for the stupidest things ever. I was enrolled into school at once, and I had the most wonderful second grade teacher ever and her name was Mrs. Bertaska. She worked at North Lauderdale Elementary.

At the time, I spoke a little bit of English. But I mostly spoke French. She was the best teacher ever. Years later, she had left her job to go to Brazil. If I had a way to contact her I would call and say thank you because without her I wouldn’t be the student I am today.

On March 15, 2011 my mother went to work, my sister was at daycare and I was home with my so called dad, he treated me as if I was not even human I had asked him to help me cook popcorn and he looked at me straight in the eye and said I am not your dad so stop calling me that, my mother finally came home that night and the minute she walked in I asked her mom who is my dad and where is he? She looked at me and said he’s right there I responded back saying no that’s not my dad and she asked me why you say that then I told her he said he was not my dad, the look on her face confirmed what he had said. From that day on. I called him by his first name.

Fast forward to 2 years living in Florida. Things between my mom, my sister and stepdad was not going well. They never married, which I am glad they never did.

Things were hard for me. He would treat me differently since I am not his biological child.

 Another year went by, and my mom finally left him and we ended up moving to Naples to live with my auntie. Her kids  never liked me. They would beat me up and my mom did not do anything.

I didn’t realize it but I was desperately seeking love.

I started middle school and I started to like boys.  I ended up dating this one boy in eighth grade and he played me so bad. (How, he cheated? Lied?)

Then life really started to test me.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I started to develop depression which I am still dealing with today. But I manage. My math teacher at the time was like a father to me he helped me when all teachers lost hope in me. He never gave up on me even though he should have, and he had the choice.

 I still speak to him twice a month. He is my best friend to this day. He is the reason I am good at math.

Without him I don’t know where I would be today.


My freshman year in high school was a disaster. We lived in North Carolina.

I was often the teachers’ pet. Students didn’t like me for that reason.

It’s not my fault that I’m smart and the teachers like me. My freshman year ended with me getting into a fight on the last day of school.

When I got home, my mom said we are moving back to Florida and that was the best news I could have ever gotten. The day came when we had to move. It was a long 17-hour drive due to the fact it was raining along the way and we had to make multiple stops. We finally arrived and I saw my auntie I have not seen in years.

To this day my mom cannot afford her own house. We have been bouncing from house to house to house.

She found a job a month after we moved to Orange Park. She saved up and eventually bought herself a car. A year later, we moved to Duval County and I started a new school.

 I used to have a job but I got fired because of fighting. I didn’t make enough money to buy a car. It would be a dream come true if I could buy a car, or if my mom could buy one for me. But at the moment, my mom is not working and she does not have enough money to buy me one.

When I switched to Westside High School I didn’t make any friends except for one of my teachers, Mr. Viecilli. He is the best teacher ever. Every single day, I go to school and I see him. I’m happy and my day goes by with no worries.

If something is going on, I know I can go to him and talk to him and he will try his best to give me advice or cheer me up and I couldn’t ask for a better teacher.

 I am a senior now and I am a first-generation graduate and I am grateful that I did not give up on life when I had the chance back in 2010.  This year I am going to work twice as hard to achieve my goal and prove to all my haters I’m not just a pretty face with a good-looking body.

My brain is worth more than my body. My knowledge is more than I could ask for. As one of my quotes saying goes Nothing is always as it seems behind my smile there is pain and behind my pain there is beauty. I am not ready to give up yet and stop grinding Not yet and most definitely not now!!


Loude-Naelle Sainthaude