Haiti Quake Survivor: ‘Hope that I Never See It Again’

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Karel Zelenka was the first voice of a Haiti earthquake survivor most of the world heard. He’s CRS’ country representative for Haiti and is one of 300 permanent CRS staff in that country.

Karel gave us our first impressions of the quake’s catastrophic damage. Today, he reports on the tension survivors are experiencing in Port au Prince.

“Our main office building shows many cracks and people just sort of run in, pick up things that they need, and we do everything outside. We have tables set up outside. We pulled out electric cables. We bring computers there and so cannot ask our staff to go in until we have some assurance the building is structurally sound.

“The internet is down citywide or maybe countrywide.”

“This is something I’ve never experienced and hope that I never see it again. It is so stressful. I can hardly sleep. And when I get to the building, our office, a little noise makes me immediately jump and I noticed everybody jump just as immediately.

“We were sitting at the table yesterday under a tree and suddenly this very powerful tremor shook and … everyone ran. We are out in the open and so people are pretty much stretched. You drive up and down the streets and you see all these bodies that are just laying down there because there is no common grave and they cannot do a proper funeral.”

“…And the worst part is the children–these little bodies down…. In general earthquakes as you probably know are the worst, worst disaster that can happen.”

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16 Responses to “Haiti Quake Survivor: ‘Hope that I Never See It Again’”

  1. Erica Says:

    I’m a counseling student and therefor not licensed yet, but if I was I would find a way to get there and help those people begin to cope with the trauma they’ve experienced. God IS with everyone.

  2. carole difelice Says:

    with 80 percent of the haitian population catholic it is imperative that the church and american catholics do all they can. i suggest penny drives at parish schools. i know its a tough time for the parishs right now but this truly is about life or death for millions. our parish is having its fuel and oil contribution this weekend and i suggest some of that money should be sent to crs.

  3. Ellen Says:

    Lord, hear our prayers….have mercy on us!

  4. Haiti Quake Survivor: ‘Hope that I Never See It Again’ « Caritas Internationalis Says:

    […] Haiti Quake Survivor: ‘Hope that I Never See It Again’ By caritasinternationalis […]

  5. Sandra Vann Says:

    I am a former Pyshcosocial CRS staff consultant to Kosovo and also to aide staff, in various regions of the world from home via Skype. I am calling and emailing CRS, to see if I can be of any assistance to your amazing staff in terms of support, debriefings, counseling, as well as any assistance in the areas of child protection,
    education, emergency assistance, family identification/reunification needs.
    Wishing all CRS staff and all aide staff in Haiti my best wishes and stay safe. You are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.

  6. Kim (Miller) Crump Says:

    Dear Karel – If you see this, our thoughts and prayers are with you, your staff, and the people of Haiti. God be with you and keep you safe and strong to bring help and hope to the survivors and assist in the long road to recovery. Know that we, and so many people, are pulling for you. Lots of Love, – Kim and Mark C.

  7. Julie Says:

    May God bless all those who are helping those in Haiti who have been so badly effected by this enormous tragedy, and we all hope for the very best in rescuing those injured and worse. Our prayers are with all of those impacted by this immense tragedy. Now is the time to give to help in the most efficient way possible to try to minimize the damage — even as we struggle with our own troubles, we must not forget those more devastated than we may be even with our own troubles.

    God bless and look over those damaged by this tragedy and all of those helping to rescue and assist everyone in Haiti.


  8. Connie Says:

    Our thoughts and prayers for the Haitian people, the Catholic Relief Services and CNN for your loss, assistance and public service in this world tragedy.

    May God guide us in his infinite wisdom to continue to help our neighbor Haiti to, once again, rebuild.


  9. Ed Resor Says:

    Some wireless Internet is working if you have power for you terminal. I spoke with Access Haiti and their wireless system appears to be working.
    Let me know if you have problems. (I have never met these guys, I am CRS volunteer from 1974 in Southern Sudan).

    Keep up the great work, Ed Resor

  10. Debra Says:

    I want to go to Haiti and help. How? I am catholic and member of church of st mary love helping people especially those in need. My son is away at college and I really feel helpless. I pray for everyones safty and the people who are hurt and people who lost loved ones. ease there pain. in the name of Jesus hear our prayers.

  11. Simona Bakaya Says:

    Dear Karel
    I hope all the help of this Big world of ours reaches Haiti soon. My prayers are with all the rescue workers, the suffering and the homeless on the streets. Why is God sending more aftershocks,,who will take care of the massive no of orphans & widows, the sick without water & food? Today being the Sunday of Jesus’s 1st miracle, I am pleading with Him to visit Haiti along with His Mother Mary. My prayers will be with You, Karel.
    God bless

  12. Toler Says:

    We are looking for Sheyla Maximilien. A 1980 graduate from St. Cyril Academy in Danville, PA. Sheyla was our classmate and we’re trying to find out where she is.

  13. Toler Says:

    We’re worried for Sheyla and hope she’s ok.

  14. Jerry Ferguson Says:

    This event is another opportunity for those who have been financially blessed to show their graditude to God, by giving of their resouces to those who are less fortunate. Will they pass God’s test and help their brothers and sisters, or will they continue living in their worldly greed? “To those who much is givin, much is expected”

  15. Pat Franklin Says:


    Hang in there. You have the support and prayers of CRS alumni.

  16. Haiti Reflection: ‘Saved by Love’ | Voices of CRS Says:

    […] have a strong image of Karel Zalenka in my head. He’s standing with a cell phone in his hand and around him the world is collapsing: first the sounds, the creaking; then the noise, the falling; then the unholy utterances, long […]

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