Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Haiti Earthquake - One Year Ago

One year ago today, on January 12, 2010, a devasting earthquake struck Haiti. For me, this was a tragedy unlike others, even of similar or greater proportions, because it was personal and directly involved my next door neighbor, Erin Lancer, who was in Haiti when the earthquake happened. Erin was there visiting with the little boy (Geoff) she and her husband (Mike) were planning to adopt.

The immediate aftermath was a rush of days and efforts by her family trying to cope with the situation and help bring her back home. The local news picked up the story, and Mike Lancer posted to Facebook constantly, updating friends and family about Erin's status. Within a few days, Erin came home to Buffalo, but without Geoff, who she had to leave behind because the adoption hadn't been finalized yet.

Frantic efforts followed to finalize Geoff's adoption and clear the way for him to join the Lancer's in the U.S. Politicians got involved, including Senator Chuck Schumer of NY. Then, on January 29, just over two weeks after the earthquake, the Lancers were able to pick up Geoff in Florida and eventually bring him to his new, adopted home. It was a ray of life for at one Haitian child among thousands.

From the start, Geoff's arrival has been a gift to my family and a reminder of how a deep act of kindness can save a life. My daughter is a year younger than Geoff, but she immediately took to his infectious smile and effusive style of play. As next door neighbors, there are often opportunities for both planned and spontaneous play, and since his arrival on our street, my daughter and Geoff have found all kinds of ways to have fun, including riding in a wagon together, walking around the block, and swimming in the pool.

Geoff has also brought more diversity into my daughter's world. Her reality and world now include a neighbor and playmate who is visibly different but yet who's just like her. It's helped expand her notions or people and race, and it's one more reason we're thankful to have Geoff in our neighborhood and life.

One can't predict the vicissitudes of life. We don't know how long we'll be neighbors with Geoff and his family, or if my daughter and he will remain friends through the vagaries of adolescence. I am pretty certain, though, that we'll always remember the Haiti earthquake and the relief and happiness we shared when Erin and then Geoff came home.

Sonje Ayiti.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:34 PM

    We're hoping for a long and happy friendship between Geoff and Cecilia.