Marin County mother returns from Haiti

January 26, 2010 11:23:19 AM PST
A Marin County mother is reunited with her family. They survived the earthquake in Haiti together, then Myriam Kaplan Pasternak said goodbye to her husband and children and stayed behind to help with the relief efforts.

The last time Myriam Kaplan Pasternak saw her husband and two daughters, they parted ways in Haiti.

Mark Pasternak and the girls made the journey home to Marin County last week. Myriam stayed to help with relief efforts in the country where she has volunteered for years.

The scene she left behind is almost indescribable.

"The victims are next to each other to get body warmth because there was no other way of keeping them warm and they were in shock. Somebody brought us a couple gallons of water in little baggies and we were able to get water to the children," she said.

The Pasternaks' own story of survival is a lucky one. When the quake's violent shaking began, the family was riding in a van to a missionary south of Port-Au-Prince. Miraculously, they were running late.

"We were very, very lucky that we were running late because the guesthouse where we were going to stay collapsed and we would have been there inside at the time," Kaplan Pasternak said.

Photos taken by the Pasternak girls show the devastation they witnessed. Many of the 300 children in a three story school nearby never made it out.

Survivors worked through the night without tools or machinery to rescue them, but as far as the family knows, there are still 100-200 children trapped in the rubble.

"The destruction if anything is worse. It's just not to be believed," Mark Pasternak said.

Destruction and desperation surrounded by stories of hope and survival.

"This is the cold season for them. So they're cold and they're sleeping out at night and they're afraid. This is something they can't fathom but they're really pulling together," Kaplan Pasternak said.

Myriam wants to return to Haiti, but she said she will only go back to the island nation when she feels that she can make a difference.