International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Earthquake Survivors Find New Home in Atlanta

The long journey from Port-au-Prince to Atlanta began for Minouche Savior when she dropped off her one-year-old son, Michee, at daycare on January 12, 2010. Hours later, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti and reduced the building that housed the daycare center to rubble. It would be nine days before little Michee, buried alive, would be rescued. He was the only survivor among all the children at the daycare.

In February, after days on a hospital ship off the coast, Minouche boarded an airlift with Michee and other severely injured patients and their caregivers as they were evacuated to receive critically needed medical care in Atlanta-area hospitals.

After several months of surgeries and recuperation, Michee was well enough to attend daycare, enabling Minouche to enter the IRC in Atlanta's Intensive Job Readiness Training program. Along with the other Haitian evacuees, they attended 35 hours a week of employment training, orientation to the American workplace and English language instruction.

IRC Atlanta's Senior employment specialist Rachel Gast worked closely with the Haitian earthquake survivors to find them employment. In December, just one month after coming to IRC, Minouche began working full-time at an Atlanta hotel.

 "She showed no hesitation the moment we told her of the first job lead," said Rachel. "In fact, all of these men and women have been determined to quickly get to work. They are tremendously resilient."

 
Minouche Savoir holds son Michee while addressing community members one year after the earthquake.

 On January 16, 2011, at an event commemorating the first anniversary of the Haitian earthquake, the Association of 2010 Haitian Earthquake Victims presented the IRC in Atlanta with an award “in recognition of significant humanitarian services provided to earthquake victims.”

The event was attended by over 300 people and included moving testimonials by earthquake survivors.