Save the Children’s Port-au-Prince office is usually a hive of activity by the time 8am rolls around. This morning we all paused for a moment to mark the two-week point since the disaster struck, and to remember our colleague, a young man named Mackendy, who was lost in the quake.
The greatly expanded group of staff, Haitians and expatriates — some who have worked here for years and some who arrived just after the quake — gathered under the almond tree in the compound, one of the last remaining open spaces that isn’t covered in tents or vehicles.
While we are all entirely focused on the three Rs – relief, recovery and reconstruction – our Country Director urged us to take a moment for three different Rs – reflection, remembrance and reaffirmation.
He shared memories of Mackendy, who had started with Save the Children as an intern, and then joined our finance department in Port-au-Prince full-time during our emergency response to the four hurricanes that struck Haiti in quick succession in 2008.
I worked some long hours here during that response, but I could usually be sure that Mackendy would be in the office before me and leave after me. His good humour and quick smile made him many friends. He was an only child, and was working hard to advance his career; he was in a night class in accounting when the building collapsed during the quake. His mother sat among us during our morning commemoration, and it was like the life has drained out of her. She did not cry, but her grief could not have been more apparent.
This is just one story out of so many, but for me it symbolizes in some way the depth of loss that Haiti has suffered.