A Girl Meets a Shaken World


Grace Almanza

Johanne Damiscar modeling for one of her friend’s photo assignments.

Mishka Brice, Copy Editor

Many people have heard of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010, but not many can say that they lived through it. Johanne Damiscar is one of these few.

Damiscar and her sister had just finished volleyball practice at the time and were headed home. Nothing seemed out of place because they were stuck in what they thought was everyday traffic, but they soon realized the devastation that was taking place.

“All of a sudden, all you heard was rumbling,” said Damiscar. “I felt the ground shaking, but I thought we got into an accident. Everybody was running and things started falling right in front of us; it was really scary.”

Damiscar’s parents didn’t think twice to act upon what was happening. They ushered Damiscar and her sister from the back of the pickup truck into the car and ordered them to lay their head down. Thanks to them, Damiscar doesn’t remember the situation to be as traumatizing or gruesome as it really was because she didn’t witness very much. She does, however, remember what took place after the 5 minute earthquake.

“When we reached home, the earthquake was over, but there were a few aftershocks. I thought my house had gone down with everyone else’s,” said Damiscar. “Thankfully, it didn’t, but we didn’t go back into the house for a week because we didn’t know if the house would collapse on us like it had on some others in the neighborhood.”

Damiscar and her family camped out in their backyard for a week, living off of crackers and water. Their backyard became a safe haven as well for neighbors and friends in need who didn’t have a backyard or house to go to. Damiscar’s older sister, Samirah, volunteered for the Red Cross and witnessed the devastating aftermath of the earthquake.

“Samirah saw dead people everywhere,” said Damiscar. “No one was buried yet. She saw inflated bodies everywhere. She and some others were almost robbed too when giving out food because people were going crazy from hunger. It was traumatizing for her.”

Fortunately, her family hadn’t lost any loved ones.

Damsicar had originally planned on moving to America in the future for college, but her parents had decided to move the family to America one week after the earthquake, in fear of Damiscar and her sisters missing too many months of school. The family moved to South Florida and resided with some relatives for a short while. Damiscar attended Woodlands Middle School as a 7th grader.

“I knew my ABC’s, but I wasn’t fluent,” she said. “It was a really scary transition at first, but they had ELL classes for that. I had the greatest teacher for a person that comes to America though, she was very nice and patient, which made the transition a whole lot easier for me.”

With the help of ELL classes and American television, Damiscar quickly picked up the English language after only a year of living in America. Now, as a junior in high school, she excels at an advanced level, taking advanced placement courses and honors classes for the past 3 years in high school.

Outside of her studies, Damiscar describes her life as, “Hannibal, sleep, and pizza.” And outside of that, her friends describe her as an endearing and loving friend to others. Whether it’s helping out a friend model for a photo project to going all out for another friend’s birthday, she’s always there for you.

“I met Johanne ninth grade year, but we didn’t come close until the very end up sophomore year,” said junior Siena Werber. “She was always a really nice, good person. Her ability to be extremely selfless, loyal, and giving to people is what makes her an amazing friend and person.”

With college around the corner, Damiscar aspires to major in interior design, saying that her love for it comes from watching Extreme Home Makeovers. She hopes to attend a very prestigious interior design program at FIU.

The earthquake may have shaken her home, her world, but it didn’t shake her.