This is Jean Dorlus, standing in front of the ruined main building for STEP (Seminaire de Theologie Evangelique d’Haiti). Jean, who is president of the seminary, was in his office when the quake hit. He (and almost every other Haitian) cried out to God, believing as the building swayed and bucked that it was going down. But it stood, and he made his way out safely. Not everyone did: one student died and three others were badly hurt.
Within a very short time the shady hillside seminary campus was filled with people from the neighborhod. In a few days a census would find 4,000 new seminary residents camping out on the basketball court and every available patch of space. A Haitian doctor set up a clinic, using cardboard for splints and scavenged hydrogen peroxide and tylenol for medications. Other medical providers from the area joined her, a Boys Brigade troop from local churches provided crowd control. Resident missionary families gave everything they had–sheets and blankets, clothes, food. American aid groups reached STEP with food, water, medical teams, and other helps in a few days.
Jean, while proud of how his seminary responded, had his worries. He wondered if the refugees would become a permanent encampment–they had, after all, no homes. He worried about how and when the seminary could start again–if ever. Offices and classrooms were gone. His students, even if the seminary started up in tents, would have a hard time paying tuition. And Jean, who had lost approximately 100 friends and family members, had other responsibilities. Sixteen friends and family members were sleeping outside in his back yard. (The house did not fall, but people in Port-au-Prince are too afraid to sleep indoors.) He had no electricity and no way to buy a generator. The banks were closed so he had no money. His car badly needed repair. Every time he closed his eyes at night his mind replayed the disaster. He did not sleep until 2 or 3:00 in the morning, and he woke up with his heart racing in the morning.
It seems silly to mention it, but Jean is a true bibliophile. He mourned for the 2,000 books in his private library he had left behind in his office. He expects he will never see them again.
Comparatively, Jean is blessed. I mean, compared to many other Haitians. He and his family were uninjured. But he is under extraordinary stress. And one can only expect that he will face these stresses for months and years to come.
In the midst of this, Jean took me in (whom he had never met, only read a little) and took extraordinary care of me. His wife Barbara cooked wonderful meals and washed my clothes. We all slept together under the stars. Jean took me to meet pastors and leaders all over Port-au-Prince. I will always be thankful for the Dorlus’ warmth and care under such extraordinary circumstances.
In the next few days I’ll try to weigh in with other stories and photos.