Framework

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Belgian rescue workers lift Marise George from the ruins of a home she had been visiting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in January. The earthquake struck the day she arrived; she was trapped for three days.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

George, seen here in April, spends her days at the hospital in Borgne, on Haiti's northern coast. At one hospital stop on her journey back to her hometown, her right leg was amputated. "Psychologically what happened to Marise has been very traumatic," says her doctor, Xavier Ilaman Armond. "She has not only lost her leg, but she's lost her family members."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

George had recently obtained a sponsor to help her move to the United States and was in Port-au-Prince to apply for a passport when the earthquake hit.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

"It would be nice if I could get back to normal. Get a functioning leg and hand, so I could get back to my business and go back to church," George says. She lost her son and mother in the quake.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

George's right hand was also badly injured when the house collapsed, and she suffers frequent shooting pains.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

George, 46, lives in a tent at the Borgne hospital, a stone's throw from the water where she used to swim. Several families are living in tents under a large open shed built beside the hospital.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

The house in Port-au-Prince where George was injured remains a pile of rubble. She was sitting on the front porch when the building collapsed. The building next door is still standing, but not occupied.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

Borgne holds memories of swimming and singing for George. "It would make me happier if I had something I could listen to during these hard times," she says.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times

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Haiti: Living in Limbo – Days of remembrance

On Jan. 12, Marise George arrived by bus in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Hours later, she lay buried under rubble from the devastating earthquake. Times photographer Carolyn Cole, who was there for George’s rescue days later, returned to the island last month and tracked her down.

Reporting from Borgne, Haiti — From her hospital bed, Marise George can hear the ocean where she used to swim.

George doesn’t go swimming now. She doesn’t sleep well, either, despite the soft sound of the waves.

“She often falls asleep sad,” a friend says.

Here on the far northern coast of Haiti, in a place residents call O’Boy, George boarded a bus back in January with high hopes for the future. The 46-year-old single mother of three had finally gotten a sponsor to help her get to the United States, and she was going to Port-au-Prince to apply for a passport.

For the trip she chose a white cotton blouse with white lace trim. Her mother and son volunteered to come along.

The earthquake struck the afternoon they arrived in the capital. The three-story house where they were staying collapsed. Nine people died, including George’s mother and son.

Rescuers eventually lifted George out of the hole in a bright orange sled, her bandaged arms folded across her abdomen. Her hair looked lightly dusted; the white blouse she had left home wearing days earlier was still clean.

The long journey back to O’Boy took weeks, including stops at five hospitals. At one, George’s right leg was amputated above the knee.

In recent weeks she has been at the Borgne hospital, a stone’s throw from the beach. Nine families are living in tents under a large open shed built beside the hospital. The ceiling fan isn’t big enough to move the air down around the tents.

“We were planning to get a fan for each tent and something to keep their minds active – like a TV – but we ran out of funding,” said Dr. Thony Michelet Voltaire, the hospital’s medical director.

Doctors ordered a prosthetic leg for George, but weren’t sure when it would arrive.

George thinks about the things she has lost. She thinks about her mother and her son. “It would make me happier if I had something I could listen to during these hard times,” George says, a distant look on her face.

A deeply religious woman, she remembers how she would often sing church songs and strum the guitar. She wasn’t very good, she says, but she liked it.

“For now, I just sing in my heart.”

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