“When your eyes are closed, what do you see?”

My response was that I could still see it all, as if it was still there…

Yes, there was a house in this exact spot. Just on the coastline of the city of Jeremie, in Grand’Anse Department. People lived in it, my father, my mother, my brother and I.

My father is a good man. He works hard, he is strong and kind. My mum loves her family, she is a good person and cares for everyone. My brother is the same; if he has something he shares it with everyone.

A boy sits on a pile of rubble.
Dicejour Gelin, 13, in front of his house, which was destroyed by the path of Hurricane Matthew in the town of Jeremie, in the Garnd-Anse Department, Haiti. “The roofs and tree branches flew away. Water started coming in, things were flying everywhere… no one could get hold of them,” explains Dicejour.

We all lived together in this house.

The wall was high. At the entrance, and in each room, there was a door. In my parents’ room there was a bed, a table and a dresser in the corner. My mum and dad would sleep on their bed and my little brother and I would sleep in another room right in front of theirs. The dishes and other cookware were arranged neatly on a shelf in the kitchen. The front porch was a little veranda.

It was an old house with a tin roof. We wanted to fix it up a bit but we didn’t have the means yet. We were going to pour a new foundation, so we could build a new wall; we were going to make another room and if possible build another story.

I liked the way the house was, because this was our house, and there was no hurricane.

That day, I went early in the morning with my brother to school. First we had bible studies, then Math and French. After break time, we came back and we had English, Reading Comprehension, Grammar, History and Creole. I like school.

When I came back from school in the afternoon, I went to take a nap. A few minutes later the strong wind started. My brother and I headed inside my parents’ room, all bracing together. We then saw the house crumbling on top of us.

Suddenly, a massive wave hit the house really hard — destroying the big walls — and the tin roof disappeared into the air, flying away. There was a lot of screaming and people running. We looked for our family and neighbours and helped those who were struggling. We banded together and we pushed through the storm. We left everything behind.

My dad grabbed us and we ran to higher ground, to take shelter in a school. There was rain, waves, wind and screaming.

I thought the strong wind would sweep my family away and I would never see them again.

We really ran hard but the ground was giving way beneath us. We got to the school and the gate had collapsed. They opened it up and took us into the yard and then into one the rooms. Even when we got up there, the wind was deafening.

After the storm settled down and it was over, all we had to wear was our wet clothes. I was so cold.

We slept in a piece of trap. People had nowhere else to go, so they stayed in the shelter.

Now we don’t know what we will do. I heard that my school is gone and that makes really sad. Education is important, because without school you cannot survive. That is how you find a job.

Now I still study but my books are ruined. There are other kids who live up the hill and I borrow their books from them.

I would like to become president. I would help the country, create jobs, free schools and hospitals, and build schools and roads and everything the country needs. Because I love my country.

Ensuring children have access to education is a high priority concern for UNICEF. At least 300 schools in Grand’Anse and South Department have been damaged by the hurricane, affecting more that 100,000 children.


Dicejour is 13-years-old and lives in Jeremie, Grand-Anse Department, Haiti. 

Manuel Moreno is a Communication Consultant with UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean Regional Office currently in Haiti. This article is composed of excerpts from an interview done with Dicejour Gelin on the 9th October of 2016, four days after Hurricane Mathew hit the country.



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