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Mom Passes the Earthquake Test

By Patrick Carney

When Magalie Rigaud felt the building shake, she grabbed her twin 12-year-old boys. As the roof collapsed, she lay down on top of them, hoping that the debris would hit her and spare her young sons.


Magalie Rigaud, a CRS employee, was trapped with her twin boys in a collapsed supermarket in Port-au-Prince for 8 hours after the earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010. Photo by Lane Hartill/CRS

For 8 hours, Magalie, her sons Marc-Edwin and Carl-Edwin, and other shoppers laid trapped beneath a pile of rubble that, moments earlier, had been a Port-au-Prince supermarket. People were shouting, crying and panicky. In the darkness of the rubble, her faith kept her calm. She focused on keeping her children alive.

"It was that protective instinct that was there," Magalie says. "There were two things that were really important at that moment and it was their two lives. Mine really was secondary."

More than one year after the earthquake, Magalie and her family are doing well. Magalie is still working in materials resources management for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti. After the quake, she sent her two sons and her daughter, who was home alone during the earthquake, to live with her sister in Florida where they could continue their education. She speaks with pride about her sons who completed 8th grade in Tampa with all A's and her daughter who has remained in the United States to go to college. Magalie brought her sons home in June to start 9th grade in Haiti.

"They [her children] did not show much trauma after the earthquake," Magalie says. "They look like normal kids with no obvious trauma post-earthquake."

As we celebrate mothers this May, we look at Magalie as an example of a mother's strength, love and faith.

"We have to commit ourselves to do our job to the fullest," Magalie says. "Every woman who is a mother has a role and is a guide for these kids. They need to understand they have a really unique job to do, and we should fulfill that job."

Read Magalie's full story.

Patrick Carney is the associate web producer, writer and editor for Catholic Relief Services. He is based at CRS headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland.

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