Seminarian sees Haitian devastation firsthand

FORT WORTH?Precois Norcilus came to America to help his fellow Haitians. Last month, the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary student left the country to do the same thing.

Meeting one friend in Puerto Rico, Norcilus traveled back to his home country just weeks after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake devastated much of the nation and killed thousands.

“I tried to find some of my friends, my family, people I went to school with. It was really heartbreaking,” Norcilus said. “When you look at the place you went to school and went to church, it’s memories.”

While in Haiti Jan. 26-29, the seminary student tried to do what he could to help. He said several Texas churches and some of his Southwestern classmates helped raise support for the people of Haiti and their most basic and pressing needs.

“Before we came back, the money was almost raised to dig a well,” Norcilus said. “Usually a well costs $4,000, but the guy said because of the situation he would do it for half. By April, hopefully they will dig it.”

Water is not the only concern for Haitians now, though, Norcilus said.

With aftershocks still shaking Haiti a month after the largest quake, any buildings not forced to the ground in January are becoming less secure and structurally sound.

“Basically 97 percent of the people are living outside,” Norcilus said. “They’re scared to go inside. What they do is they stay outside in a little tent. If they don’t have a tent, they get a bed sheet and make their own tent.”

He said everyone?women, men and children?is living together in those makeshift rooms, fighting just to stay alive. They have not come close to dealing with the psychological and emotional trauma the quake brought, he said.

“It will take really numbers of years to overcome that. They are just trying to survive,” Norcilus said. “Everyone we spoke with, they are traumatized by the earthquake. Some of them tell you they have a lot of sleepless nights. It’s really hard for them to still comprehend that and deal with it. But they’re trying to do their best to overcome that.”

Resources are still meager though, and fighting just to stay alive is everyone’s priority?even if it means enduring unimaginable pain.

“I met a couple of doctors,” Norcilus said. “It’s hard for them to do. They’re giving people Advil to do amputations. It’s either that, or not live.”

Those who don’t live, he said, and whose bodies are beginning to decay, have yet to be removed from the streets of Port-au-Prince.

“When you walk down the street, you can smell the dead bodies all over the place. I don’t know if they’re trying to clean up right now,” the seminarian said.

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