Nearly 800,000 people were affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that shook the southern departments of Haiti in August 2021. Like many Haitians, 66-year-old Jean Mario Joseph was badly affected by the disaster. The earthquake left him with physical injuries and psychological trauma.
The day of the accident
Jean Mario Joseph is the father of four children. He used to work at the tax office in his commune of Ile à Vache, a few kilometres south of Les Cayes. He was at home on August 14th 2021, the day the earthquake struck. The walls of his house shook, the floor gave way under his feet and Jean Mario was projected onto a basket full of tableware.
That day, his house was destroyed and Jean Mario suffered serious injuries to his right leg. He underwent surgery but, because of his diabetes, the doctors had no choice but to amputate his leg.
"After the operation, my life became very difficult because I was completely dependent on my family. I couldn't go to medical appointments without my son's help. I was very depressed when I was referred to HI’s rehabilitation services. For me, my life had lost all meaning," recalls Jean Mario.
Rehabilitation and psychosocial support
Jean Mario is now in the care of HI's rehabilitation teams. They have taken measurements of his stump to make him a prosthetic leg, which will be ready shortly. In the meantime, HI has given Jean Mario a wheelchair to help him get around more easily. He is also receiving mental health and psychosocial support.
"The first time I went to the psychosocial support service, I got a very warm welcome. It gave me hope. The HI psychologists are helping me to cultivate joy and happiness. I really enjoy the recreational activities and the discussion groups. HI has really become like a second family for me," says Jean Mario.
Back to his daily routine
Thanks to HI's support, Jean Mario has been able to regain his autonomy and resume his daily activities.
"I’m independent again. Thanks to my wheelchair, I can move around without anyone's help. I can get around on my own with a motorbike taxi, I have resumed my religious activities and I’ve recovered my mental health," says Mario.
His perception of disability has also changed. "I know how easy it is for a person to become disabled. Having become a person with a disability myself, I now understand the realities of it. We are just like everyone else and no one has the right to humiliate us."
HI’s response to the earthquake
Within days of the earthquake, HI was providing physical rehabilitation services to support two hospitals, a rehabilitation center in Les Cayes and a hospital in Camp Perrin. These services were then extended to Aquin and mobile units were deployed to bring assistance to the most isolated populations.
Between October 2021 and August 2022, HI supported nearly 15,000 people. The organisation provided rehabilitation sessions to more than 6,000 people, as well as mental health and psychosocial support services to more than 8,000 people.
The earthquake caused landslides and rockfalls which blocked roads. HI carried out debris clearance operations until December 2021, removing more than 4,600 square feet of earth, the equivalent of nearly four Olympic-sized swimming pools. HI also launched a boat transport system to deliver humanitarian aid to the affected areas. Between August 2021 and May 2022, HI delivered more than 1,200 tons of humanitarian supplies to hard-to-reach areas.