PLANTATION, FL (January 19, 2010) – A week following the earthquake in Haiti, many of the 34 Haitian staff members working at Covenant Village of Florida are still waiting to learn the fates of relatives living in the devastated nation, says Judy Johnson, healthcare administrator.
Several employees recently received the good news that their families are safe. Another, however, learned that they he had lost 10 family members, Johnson says.
One employee had to wait nearly a week to hear that his five children, for whom he is the sole support, were safe. They had lost everything when four hurricanes ripped through the country in 2008. They still were rebuilding their homes at the time the latest storm struck.
Following the 2008 storm, the employee commented that possessions could be replaced, but they felt fortunate to be alive. That same outlook has been renewed in the aftermath of this latest tragedy.
Learning the fates of family members has been difficult due to poor communications – most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. One employee learned through a 3 a.m. text message that her family had survived.
Meanwhile, other staff and residents have been providing care and comfort to the Haitian employees. “It’s a very strong support system between the residents and the staff,” Johnson says.
The Haitian employees have continued to report for work, even though the Covenant Retirement Community did not require them to be there. “They say, ‘This is my work family. I know I have support here. I know I have a faith family here,’ ” Johnson says.
“Others say that they wanted to be here to continue caring for the residents,” Johnson adds.
The news spread quickly through the community after the earthquake hit, and fellow staff and residents immediately began to minister to the Haitian employees in various ways. Everyone struggled to comprehend the extent of the damage as they heard the reports flood in through television news reports.
“There was a lot of quietness,” Johnson says.
The staff has been especially appreciative of the prayer support received from their coworkers and across the country, says Johnson. She asked that Covenanters continue to pray for the employees as well as others affected by the disaster.