The earthquake that struck Haiti three years ago this month sent a concrete wall crashing down onto the 30-year-old dancer Fabienne Jean. Her right leg was crushed and had to be amputated. When Fabienne danced again, she was hailed as a symbol of Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery.
But as reporter Jacob Kushner discovered, the quest to rebuild one woman’s life would take much more than that.
In the first part of this week-long series about Fabienne, Kushner examines the hopes and expectations that evolved in the aftermath of the earthquake.
Fabienne became a sort of symbol for Haiti's recovery and her story quickly found its way into part of a narrative about the resilience of the Haitian people and hope for the country's recovery.
Here’s just a few of the optimistic stories that were first written about her:
- From Good Magazine: "Once she regains her sense of balance and learns to redistribute her weight , she'll do fine. She's young and she's got a great attitude.'" - Dispatches From Haiti: Injured Ballerina Is Determined To Dance Again
- From The New York Times: "But what can I do? I can't kill myself because of this, so I have to learn to live with it." - Countless Lost Limbs Alter Life In Haiti's Ruins
- From International Medical Corps: "But for Fabienne, whose face is more often than not lit up by a radiant smile, walking is just a half-way point to her real goal: she is determined to dance again." - A Story of Hope And Inspiration In Haiti
- From Foster's Daily Democrat: "I'm so happy because I'll get a dancing leg, which will make me stronger than I am now." - Proud Survivor: Haitian Quake Victim Finds No Shame Dancing Dancing With Prosthesis
If you had only followed Fabienne's story for the first few months after the quake, it might seem as though she was on her way to a full recovery and a new life—thanks to an international community of doctors and healers.
But as Kushner found out, the story didn't end that way.
In the final installment of our series, Jacob Kushner tells us where she is now.
Below, you can see Fabienne rehearsing with other dancers at Haiti's National Theatre in December.
You can listen to the whole series below:
Have you been to Haiti since the earthquake? Tell us what you've seen. We'll be discussing Haiti's recovery this Friday on The Florida Roundup.