Hurricane Matthew - Leanie's story

Leanie, who works with a local Disabled Person's Organisation (DPO) in Haiti, lost her house and livelihood during hurricane Matthew. She is matter-of-fact about the situation, saying "I just want to go back to being able to take care of myself".

Home and livelihood lost

Leanie, the secretary of RANIPH, a local Disabled Person's Organisation (DPO) in Les Cayes, walked into the office, with the help of a crutch, wearing a beautiful gold shirt and matching white skirt with gold designs. We told her that her outfit was striking and she responded with a shy smile, “Thank you. I made it myself.”

Leanie lived in her mother’s house with one of her brothers, his wife and their children. When she wasn’t in the RANIPH office, she enjoyed going to church, painting and most especially sewing. She sewed not only for her family and friends, but for her clients as well, enabling her to support herself. Then Hurricane Matthew made landfall on October 4, 2016 and all of that changed.

Although Leanie knew that a storm was coming, she didn’t know it was going to be so strong. Even though she didn’t want to leave her house, she knew she had to before the situation got worse. So she evacuated to her older sister's house.

Leanie recalls crying all night, worrying about her siblings and their children, as the hurricane grew more intense. Now, almost three weeks after the storm, she is still unable to return home, as trees fell on her house and she doesn’t have the means to remove them and repair the damage.

All Leanie wants is just a little help to go back to living the way she was and doing the things she used to do. “I don’t need bags of rice or beans,” she says proudly. “Let’s leave that for the people who really need it, like those in the shelters.” She wants some help to fix her house, get another sewing machine and perhaps a little generator so that she can go back to her sewing.

“I just want to go back to being able to take care of myself,” concludes Leanie.

Interview by Katleen Jeanty