Hotteline Lozama heard the cries of other trapped and injured people as she lay stuck in a dark corner of a collapsed building after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, says her brother, Junior Lozama, a Heifer staffer. But after a few days, the voices went quiet, and that was the most frightening time of all.
|Hotteline Lozama, recovered from her ordeal|
Hotteline Lozama, 26, was one of the last people to be rescued alive after the earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She had gone into a store to buy a birthday present for a work colleague when the shaking started.
Hotteline rushed to the second story of the structure, just before it collapsed into the first floor. She didn’t know it then, but she would be the only person from that building to survive.
Hotteline’s story comes to us through her older brother, Junior, who works as Heifer Haiti’s accountant. The day of the quake, he was about 95 miles outside Port-au-Prince, at the Heifer offices in Les Cayes. He said the search for Hotteline was “terrifying.”
The family called her cell phone, and it seemed to ring. But the prepaid phone didn’t have any minutes on it, so Hotteline could neither send nor receive calls.
Hotteline, trapped in a space perhaps eight inches tall, could hear other victims, as well as looters outside. But when she called out for help, her voice was too faint to be heard.
|Heifer Haiti employee Junior Lozama|
Junior Lozama tried to remain hopeful and brave for his family, which included four other siblings. “I wouldn’t cry in the day. But at night…” he shakes his head. “On Tuesday (a week after the quake) I was becoming hopeless. But that’s when they found her.”
Looters had finally heard Hotteline and alerted rescuers. French aid workers dug her out of the rubble, dehydrated and with an injured ankle, but otherwise unharmed.
Junior received the call he was no longer expecting; a French voice told him his sister was all right and asked if he wanted to speak with her. “I’m alive!” she told her brother.
Junior deems his sister’s survival inside the crumpled building for eight days ”miraculous.” And he says it only strengthened his faith in aid work. Junior worked with the rest of Heifer Haiti staff in the days after the quake to provide any assistance possible to quake victims.
“The whole time I’d be helping people I didn’t know, all I could think was, ‘Where is my sister?’ But then I thought – maybe some stranger is helping my sister right now, just like I’m helping these people.”
Hotteline Lozama doesn’t want to return to Port-au-Prince to work anymore. She’s afraid of the city and the dangers of its buildings. But her family embraces her like never before, and Junior has continued his work with Heifer Haiti, helping strangers to move beyond poverty and risky conditions into security.