Ann Varghese has known the worth of hope for those 55 hours. And for her, remembering those seemingly-long ending hours — and surviving one of the worst-ever earthquakes ever in history in Haiti — is reliving trepidation.
“At the end, I did survive, leaving behind those long hours. It was miraculous”, Ann, 31, born to Indian parents in the US, told HT over phone from Baltimore, where she works for IMA World Health, a nonprofit organisation.
As a program officer with the body, her duties include dealing with tropical diseases in countries including Haiti. After finishing meeting at Hotel Montana, located on a mountainside in Port-au-Prince, they were going for dinner on Tuesday.
“I was looking for someone to ask for direction to the restaurant to someone. I didn’t ask, rather I couldn’t as the building started shaking. I just looked around for my colleagues and within seconds the entire building just collapsed.”
“I was shocked, thought it was a bomb as confusion reined in” said Ann. So then, what talks kept them going when trapped in hopelessness
“We talked about our families, our careers — and what else, we just tried to keep the hope alive. All we could do was some struggled movements. But we were trapped in the debris.”
Wednesday morning they heard someone shouting at them from outside, but no one came in, and the wait continued. French firefighters found them, at last around 8 pm next day.
“Then it took another five hours before we were pulled out. I stayed a bit long—after talking to my family over a satellite phone as there some others trapped and they didn’t know what to tell the French doctors, so I helped them”. She said they had no food and less water, and came out dehydrated too.
So, is she again going to Haiti? “Why not? The people there need for help”, says Ann.