This is an account of Chris Rakunas’ experiences when he and a colleague spent the best part of a week in Haiti to deliver a consignment of medical supplies to aid the country after it was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake in 2010. The medical supplies were for hospitals and an orphanage run by someone known as the Mother Theresa of Haiti—Miriam, an extraordinary, selfless, and utterly dedicated lady.
This is a compelling read. It’s a stomach-churning read. It’s a tragic read and one that makes you ask a number of questions—many of which, amongst others, Chris asks at the end of the book—but primarily, you ask yourself why, how, can such a dreadful, ravaging natural disaster happen?
Approximately three million people were affected by this quake, over 300,000 people died, 300,000 were injured and over a million made homeless. The devastation and destruction is unimaginable, but Chris ably conveys the horror, the tragedy, the gut-wrenching despair of injured children who have lost their parents, injured parents who have lost their children, husbands who have lost their wives, wives who have lost their parents, families who have lost their homes, their businesses, their income. Then there’s the sheer frustration of not being able to freely go about doing what aid workers are there to do: the ominous military presence is frightening to say the least and Chris becomes hell-bent in his determination to achieve what he set out to; there’s frustration at not being able to take the simplest of measures that will save lives; there’s frustration at the insensitive and callous attitude of film crew who metaphorically trample on people’s destitution for the sake of sensationalism.
There is no doubt that his experiences changed Chris. He will have images in his mind that will probably stay with him forever.
It’s hard to ‘recommend’ a book such as this—reading about someone else’s misfortune is hardly enjoyable. But it is essential to understand not only what these victims endured and are still enduring, but also the difficulties, danger, and obstacles faced by those brave people such as Chris in order to help them. The very least we can do is buy this book, a portion of the proceeds of which will go the orphanage he assisted.