by Mirlande Jean-Gilles
My mother calls me The Resourceful One. Before the big séisme1 of January 12th, when our neighborhood was still standing, if she needed garlic, an onion, nails, anything, she could send me out into the neighborhood and in a few minutes I would bring her what she needed. I am still resourceful and it is necessary here in Port-au-Prince where we have to make something out of nothing.
Almost all the houses in my neighborhood were destroyed when the earthquake happened. Now everyone lives across the street in a field where our country’s soccer team used to practice. Some families live in camping tents, other families, like mine have made walls, roofs and doors out of plastic tarps, blankets, pieces of wood and string. Where I live is called a tent city and it is arranged with hundreds of neat rows of broken down shacks leaning on each other for support.
I am carrying a heavy, spilling bucket almost filled to the top with water I have just retrieved from the water trucks that deliver water daily. My upset mother is outside of our shack pacing and crying.
She runs over to me in a panic. “You must go find insulin. Your aunt is sick. Quickly!” She yells to my back. I am already running. My aunt has diabetes and it makes her very ill. The uneven, rocky ground makes me lose my footing.
My heart is beating so fast. I rush to the shack of Madame Charles because she is a nurse. I push aside the blanket that is her door and no one is there. My heart falls. I head over to see Josette who is another nurse that lives in our tent city.
My friend Camile is running by my side and we almost run into somebody’s cooking fire.
“My aunt is sick and I need to get insulin. I’m going to Josette’s. Madame Charles is not home.”
We turn a corner and a group of kids are following us.
Camile says, “I’ll go look by the water truck, maybe Madame Charles is on line.” I am speeding passed a row of tent houses and I see Camile’s mother.
“What is wrong Lucien?”
It is hard to breathe, my chest is burning, but I get the words out.
“My aunt is sick and my mother asked me to get insulin for her.” She makes a surprised sound and only nods. I continue to run to Josette’s tent.
A short boy named Benoit runs up to me. He says, “I went by Josie’s tent and she’s not there, but someone saw Madame Charles’ son at the soccer field.”
I run towards the field and running to me are Camile and Madame Charles’ son.
“Where is your mother? My aunt is sick!”
“She’s working at the hospital,” he says sadly.
I cannot believe it. Quiet tears fall. I run towards home. For the first time my hands are empty. Camile catches up to me.
I say tearfully, “I have to go back home with nothing.”
There’s crowd in front of our shack. They chant my name excitedly when they see me. I am so upset. People pat me on the head and back as I rush into the room full of people. My aunt is sitting up looking well. My uncle grabs me in a hug and shakes my hand.
My mother hugs me tearfully and says, “I knew you would be able to get it!”
I am confused. Hot tears run down my face. “I didn’t get it,” I say quietly.
“Come here, child,” my aunt says. I am so relieved that she is well. She embraces me in a warm hug that smells of lavender.
“I wasn’t able to get it,” I cry.
“You sent out your army and they found it,” my aunt says, hugging me tighter.
“Army?” I ask.
“You sent the word out and the city answered.”
Everyone is staring proudly at me. My heart is soaring.
My uncle says, “Frederic rushed in here with insulin from his grandfather. He heard you say you needed it. You told Camile’s mother, who knows someone who suffers like your aunt. She ran in here with more insulin.”
Madame Charles rushes into our shack with a man dressed in a doctor’s coat. I cannot stay any longer. My mother hugs me and kisses my forehead before I can leave.
“My Resourceful One. Good job,” she whispers to me.
Outside, Camile and Frederic are with some of the other kids waiting. I shake Frederic’s hand.
“Thanks for your help,” I tell him. He just nods. Everyone is talking at once as we all walk to the soccer field.
1. séisme: The French word for eathquake.
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