“The January 2010 earthquake was devastating to everyone in Haiti and to all of us at Free the Children. We hurried to help, but it took a week to work our way from our friends and colleagues in Port-au-Prince to our site farthest from the capital, where five hundred workers and children were stranded, supplies dwindling. Once we’d finally reached them, we had to stay the night-driving after dark was dangerous, plus there was a military-enforced curfew in place to protect convoys like our from roadblocks and looters.
So we set up camp with the kids. The group slept outside in case of an aftershock; the building was still standing, but it wasn’t safe. We all pulled our mats, mattresses, or makeshift pillows against the outside wall for some shelter. In an aftershock, we’d have to run to the safest, most open space: the soccer field nearby.
At daybreak, the ground started shaking violently with the largest aftershock since the initial quake. I woke up in a panic. I knew I had to run-the boys were up and running-but it seemed like forever until I could get my feet underneath me and move forward. There was a blur of kids racing to the soccer field. About twenty yards away from the wall, two boys were running back, going in the wrong direction. We yelled at them-“Where are you going?”-but they weren’t listening.
Back at the wall, a ten-year-old named David was still struggling to move. He’d broken his leg and was wearing a large, heavy cast. We hadn’t even seen him. Everyone had woken up and run for their lives.
But these other two boys, who were only about eight and ten years old, not only remembered their friend, they made a split-second decision that saved his life. Instead of running to David and trying to pick him up, the boys ran to the sleeping mats. They grabbed one and helped David onto it, then they dragged him on the mat to safety.
You want so much to be table to help people when a disaster strikes, but when you’re on the ground, witnessing the magnitude of the devastation, gone are the illusions that you’ll come in and save the day. Those kids-the Haitians themselves-were the ones saving the day.”
— Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, in a story from the book What Do You Want to Do Before You Die?