Miracle Boy Survivor of the Haiti Earthquake

An estimated 100,000 children were left orphaned by the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, but Kiki, luckily, is not one of them.

By Kenneth Miller from Reader's Digest | February 2011

Miracle Boy Survivor of the Haiti Earthquake© 2011 Allison Shelley/Getty ImagesOdinel at his family's former home in Port-au-Prince.
Deep in the Haitian countryside, three hours from teeming, quake-torn Port-au-Prince, Moise “Kiki” Joachin shares a two-room wooden shack with his older sister and younger brother, their mother, her parents, and four or five other relatives. Coconut and banana trees grow in the dirt yard, but a recent flood has wiped out the family’s garden. So they buy food from vendors down the road, a strain on their minuscule budget.

“They’re really struggling,” says photojournalist Allison Shelley, who tracked down the family in November for Reader’s Digest.

“The adults share a couple of mattresses on the floor, and the kids sleep on piles of clothes and comforters.” Even so, the Joachins are better off than many in this beleaguered country, where more than one million people still live in tent cities and more than 2,000 have died in a cholera outbreak. An estimated 100,000 children were left orphaned by last year’s earthquake, but Kiki, luckily, is not one of them.

Even around his parents, however, he is a timid boy, given to one-word answers, still struggling to find his place in these new surroundings. Asked which he likes better, the quiet village of Depale—where he has spent the past 12 months—or his bustling hometown, eight-year-old Kiki answers without hesitation: “Port-au-Prince.”

That’s where he was January 12, 2010, when a massive earthquake struck Haiti. As the ground began convulsing, Kiki’s mother, Gracia Raymond, ran from the porch of their apartment building in search of her five-year-old son, David, who was outside fetching water. Bloodied by falling cinder blocks, she began frantically burrowing through the crumbled concrete toward her five other kids. She could make no headway.

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