Mimose Maurice's home collapsed around her during the January 12 earthquake. With her leg and foot seriously fractured, and the medical centers in Port-au-Prince either overwhelmed or lying in ruins, it was decided that on the following day she would be transported to a hospital in the rural Central Plateau of Haiti run by PIH's sister organization in Haiti, Zanmi Lasante (ZL). Yet, all did not go as planned. In the post-earthquake chaos, Mimose was separated from her daughter, Gina, 16, and her niece, Katia, 14.
Prior to January 12, Katia had been living with another aunt—Mimose’s sister—who died in the earthquake. In the hours that followed, Mimose took her niece into her home and became her guardian. Less than a day later, this new family was accidently separated.
While a very worried Mimose was receiving medical care at the PIH/ZL facility, Gina and Katia were suddenly alone in the middle of a massive disaster zone. This was not their only problem; they too had been hurt in the earthquake. Gina's injuries were not serious, but Katia had open wounds covering her back, arms, and face, and a deep cut in her lower back.
Like Mimose, the girls headed out of Port-au-Prince to seek medical care. They hitched a ride in the back of a pickup truck and endured a long, bumpy drive to a town near Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic. At the clinic, they were told to cross the border and try their luck in Santo Domingo.
The girls found their way to Hospital Dario Contreras-the capital city's trauma hospital. After receiving initial medical attention, they were sent to Hospital Robert Reid Cabral, a nearby pediatric hospital.
As the week progressed, Katia's list of injuries expanded: she developed a urinary tract infection and complications with her kidneys.
Weeks went by. During all of this Gina had to take on the role of parent, friend, and caretaker to Katia as she slowly recovered. While local volunteers looked out for the girls generally, they were ultimately alone in a foreign country, and anxious to learn what had happened to Gina’s mother.
Meanwhile, Mimose was moved from Cange to nearby Hinche, and was an outpatient living in a tent community near Hospital St. Therese-a facility co-run by ZL and the Haitian Ministry of Health. When the ZL staff learned of the family's story, and decided to help reunite mother and daughters. ZL's social workers prepared the necessary paperwork to transport the girls from the Dominican Republic to Mimose in Hinche, and set off to fetch them.
But when the ZL staff reached the girls, Gina hesitated, thinking of her cousin's wounds. "What type of doctors will treat us there?" she asked in a low tone. "Haitian doctors make you pay for everything and we don't have any money."
The ZL staff told them how Haitian doctors had treated Mimose for free at the ZL clinic. Like all patients in the girls' situation, all medical care, medication, and even food would be provided for free to those in need. Gina and Katia consented, and the ZL staff quickly began coordinating with the Robert Reid Cabral staff to reunite the small family and to continue Katia's treatment in Hinche.
It was almost three months to the day since the family had been separated when the ZL ambulance drove back to Haiti with the girls. Mimose was overwhelmed at the sight of her daughter and niece. "When Gina and Katia were sent to the Dominican Republic, I did not know how I'd ever see them again," she said. "An angel must be looking over me and my family, because I fell into the hands of Zanmi Lasante and everything has come together."
Mimose and Katia are now both receiving physical therapy and rehabilitation at the ZL facility.