Marilin had to wait for rescue below the ruins for three days

by Simone Hartel/RBU, 2010/03/10

Simone Hartel studies medicine in Marburg and she has been a member of the humedica team in Haiti since 9th February. By means of highly energetic and dedicated work she assists the doctors at the Hospital of Hope, changes dressings, examines patients and listens to them when they want to talk about their experiences. Simone has also treated and listened to the young woman Marilin, and she has written down her experiences.

“At the day of the earthquake, Marilin had been at university, where she attended a course in accounting. She was in a room which was located on the second of several floors and when everything around her started shaking and collapsing, it was already too late for her to escape or find some protection under a door lintel.

60 percent of Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti, has been destroyed during the earthquake. Photo: humedica/Barbara de Matos Marques

The whole building collapsed and the young woman was lying below the ruins for three days. Her lower legs were trapped by heavy concrete blocks and her arms had also been hit by falling debris. But she was also subject to severe psychological strain: the whole time she spent trapped in the chaos, she was cowering next to a woman who had been killed when the building collapsed.

I cannot and do not want to imagine how one feels in a situation like this. And although Marilin and I have talked a lot to each other, I do not have even the slightest idea of how she felt at that time. She told me she had never cried during all the time she had been trapped. And she had never lost hope. This, I could not imagine at all and I was deeply moved by her words.

She screamed and shouted again and again until her voice got hoarse and by doing so she finally succeeded in drawing the attention of rescue teams to her. Even while she was being rescued, Marilin was asked for her name and the mobile phone number of her family who had then immediately been informed that their daughter was still alive.

But her suffering and pain had not yet come to an end. Over the next three days she was taken from hospital to hospital. All hospitals were crowded due to the immense number of patients, all beds were occupied. She could not stay – not to be mentioned operated – at any of them.

The Hospital of Hope was the third of fourth hospital she was taken to and the one which finally could take her in. Unfortunately, there was no way of saving her arm. Our surgeons had to amputate it at the upper arm. Marilin had injuries all over her body with her lower legs and feet being affected worst.

Simone Hartel and the young woman Marilin in the treatment tent. Photo: humedica

Marilin did not smile or show any emotions for weeks. She said that she had not been able to because of the strong pain. Certainly, the psychological consequences of the three days she had spent trapped in the ruins without light or water, injured and partly bleeding heavily, contributed to this behaviour.

But over the time she spent at our hospital she has bloomed. Her smile has returned. Just as has her overwhelming will to live and the desire to recover completely. In the meantime you can see her smile and laugh more and more often.

She told me that she had spent the whole time under the ruins praying and waiting for her rescue. And also after she had been rescued she has always believed in the fact that she would recover, and she has never feared death. She has never even thought that she could die. This had simply not been an option to her.

When she told me her feelings, I looked at her and could not believe it. I just could not grasp it that a person could have so much courage, hope and confidence. But now I have known her for some time and I know that what she tells is true. And this woman is only one of the many unbelievable people with their unbelievable fates you can meet here.”

With your donation you can help people like Marilin, who have suffered similar blows of fate.

humedica e.V.
Donation reference “Earthquake Haiti”
Account 47 47
Bank Code 734 500 00
Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

Please also donate online. Thank you very much.

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