The Words of the Paul Family

Cataclysm in Haiti

Theodule Paul
February 2010

It was exactly 4:53 PM when the earthquake hit. I was in our chapel with Theophane, who is one of our daughters, and our boy. My wife was inside the living quarters with our youngest daughter. When it started, we all stood up before realizing it was an earthquake. Theophane ran off to find her mother and my boy clung to my leg. When the building collapsed, my daughter was entering the room where her mother was. I saw the building collapse with my wife, our lovely baby girl and her older sister inside the building. The earthquake lasted thirty-seven seconds.

After the quake, I held my boy, who was so afraid and shaking; I strongly held him even though I felt so weak. I took him out into the streets with a Japanese missionary who had been able to leave her room before the building collapsed. Then, I was afraid. I wanted to know where my wife and my baby were. The Japanese missionary asked, "Where is Theophane?" I thought she had died and I replied, "Perhaps she died." I could not stand -- so weak, so weak and my heart so hot and filled with pain. I took a deep breath and ran to the collapsed house to look for my daughter. We could not see anything; a cloud of dust blocked our view. Within the dust cloud we started looking for Theophane.

When the dust had dispersed, the first thing we saw inside the collapsed building was that the picture of True Parents had stayed tight on the wall. While I was there with two brothers looking for my daughter, my wife came with our youngest, a baby girl; I took them in my arms and I cried like a baby. My wife said, "Don't cry, look at the picture of True Parents. True Parents' victory -- this is True Parents' victory. Don't cry, Papa." She said we must call for Theophane, and we started calling, Theophane! Theophane! More than ten people were calling our daughter's name by then. After some time, Theophane answered, but we could not tell in exactly which direction she was. We were pulling apart debris and calling her name. I could not stand; my heart was so pain-filled. I lay down in order to breathe while two brothers continued searching. I prayed for True Parents to give me much more energy. I told them, "You have said that you take responsibility for all those in the second generation. Please save her life; give me enough energy to stay strong and to search for your daughter. She is your daughter, True Parents." And I stood up and continued 1 searching with our brothers.

After an hour, located exactly where she was. Our minds became clear and my heart seemed to relax. I remembered she was entering the room when the building collapsed, so I told everyone that we must remove all the debris from the area. We started, every step of the way calling, Theophane! Theophane!" Her answering calls came to us clearly.

It started to grow dark, and we were obliged to use a flashlight. We asked Theophane, "Do you see the light?" "I don't," she said, "because I cannot open my eyes." "Oh! God," I thought, "my daughter has lost her eyes. I began crying, thinking about my daughter without eyes, when my wife told me, "Don't cry; we must save Theophane!"

My wife kept repeating "True Parents victory!" Finally, four of us had to move the concrete exactly where Theophane was. She was just in front of us but we could not get to her. None of us knew what to do. There was a slab of concrete on her back. We freed her feet, one by one, from under separate pieces of debris; her arms we freed as well, but her head alone stayed under another slab of concrete. By that time she was crying, and we were comforting her, saying, "Don't cry. Papa va to sorb?' dela. [Papa will get you out of there.]"

Bit by bit, we broke off parts of the concrete with a hammer until we freed her head from under the slab. I took her in my arms. My wife came, and I was crying like a small baby. My wife said, "Don't cry; she is safe. True Parents' victory!" My daughter was lying down. I touched parts of her body and asked, "Do you feel pain? Do you feel pain?" She had only received some knocks on the head. She could not see properly, but I felt it was not very serious. My wife said that we must go to a hospital. But I said, "Where can we go? We cannot go anywhere. This is not only us; the whole country is in trouble." All the hospitals around us had collapsed; debris blocked all the roads. The whole metropolitan area was in crisis.

We gathered on the lawn of the house and prayed, thanking True Parents. I asked my daughter to say, "Thank You, God; Thank you, True Parents," and she said it clearly. We then gave three cheers of mansei -- for God, for True Parents and for Haiti.

The next morning some Japanese embassy officials came to check on the situation of the Japanese missionary and of my family. They took my daughter to a hospital. Her eyes were completely closed on the morning after the quake. She could not see, but I had the feeling that she was all right.

When she came back from hospital, we were told the doctor had said she would be fine.

The same morning, many members who were also victims visited us. Their houses had collapsed. They'd lost members of their family and lost friends, but we did not have information about every member because we had no electricity and no way to communicate. Four days later, we learned that we had lost two sisters, Orpha and Mildred, who were inside their house watching television when the house collapsed on them. One member lost his father.

We all lost our houses. We are all living in the streets and do not know when we can live in a house again. We lost every single material thing in this catastrophe. Everyone is living on the streets with nothing.

In the beginning of the crisis, forty people were living on our lawn, with sixty more people around us. All of them depended on us, so we helped them with what little we had. We were in the same situation, but we felt it was our duty as Unificationists to give hope to them, not only to our members but to those in the refugee camps surrounding us.

In the center, we have a generator for people to put some charge on their phones in order to communicate, which is a kind of therapy for people. My wife has personally been acting like a nurse since the day after the earthquake; many people are injured. We have some ambassadors for peace who are working to help the children understand what happened, to help them understand and accept that they are living in the streets. We play with children; we share toys and crackers with them. Some of them cannot accept the situation. They don't understand why they are not home with their parents; many of them lost their parents but are not yet aware of this.

We are among the most fortunate people on earth because we received financial support from Unificationists through the United States church headquarters, the International Relief Friendship Foundation in Germany and IRFF in the U.S.

We are living in a state of crisis, without running water, electricity or drinking water. Some members are even without clothes and shoes. Food is an immediate concern at the moment. We are fortunate to have received help from Unificationists, and we can help others with such things as water, food (rice, beans, fish, corn and milk) oil, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, flashlights, clothing, sweaters, sugar, crackers, diapers, soap and shampoo. We cannot help them with all their needs, but with the funds we received, we have helped them to have necessary things to survive. We sing a lot in order to comfort our brothers and sisters living with trauma. We will do our best to help people feel the love of True Parents through the Unification Church.

We continue to hold Sunday service in order to keep our True Parents and God alive in the nation of Haiti. Now is the time to celebrate the victory of God and of True Parents here.

Many members come to Sunday service, some in sandals because they do not have shoes and some in dirty clothes just because they want be here. Since the main quake, we have experienced more than seventy aftershocks strong enough to create more problems but the picture of True Parents stays tight on the wall, reminding us that we must keep True Parents alive in this country.

We used some of the money we received to pay a demolition company to do the job of finishing the destruction of the house that the earthquake started. One part of the house remains and we are not yet sure if it is safe or needs to be demolished. We have also given money to some members who wanted to go to their hometowns, because they do not have a place to stay in Port- au-Prince anymore and they cannot survive in the Streets.

Ten of us are living around the church center. Most of the people who come to the church center for help are members of the church or ambassadors for peace; we have more than four thousand ambassadors for peace in Haiti. I have received so many calls from them requesting our help. As an organization, we have an obligation to do something, which is why we have tried to help them. Every day we prepare food for thirty to forty people; in the morning people who come can have some coffee and a piece of bread. At lunch, thirty to forty people can eat some rice. The most important thing now for people is food and drinking water. We feel fortunate that we have enough food to give them some. We cannot give them money but we've asked them to come every day for food.

We lost our church chapel, our home and the office we do our mission from. It will be difficult to restart, but we have hope. God knows everything; we are here to do a mission that is vital to keeping the nation of Haiti alive. 

Table of Contents

Tparents Home

Moon Family Page

Unification Library