Earthquake survivor returns home to Chicago area

January 16, 2010 9:23:33 AM PST
A west suburban woman who survived the Haitian earthquake has returned home to Glen Ellyn.The woman, Mallory Holding, is a missionary, and there was great concern about her safety because no one heard from her immediately after the earthquake hit.

A lot of members at Holding's church were supporting her efforts in Haiti, and a lot of them were deeply concerned when no one had heard from her in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Although Holding was home and safe Friday night, she remained worried about the people she left behind. Two nights ago, she was in the midst of the devastation in Port-au-Prince, helping tend to the injured.

"There's a sense of solidarity with the people you're working with, the students I had been teaching. I had the choice to leave, and they don't have that option," Holding said.

It was a tense 24 hours after the earthquake for the young woman's mother, until she was finally able to get through on her cell phone for about one minute before losing the call.

"When I heard her voice, the conversation that we had, I knew she was alive and not buried under rubble, you balance that with the people who don't [know], and that's hard. You know your greatest fears have been realized by them," Suzi Holding said.

Mallory Holding's Haiti apartment withstood the earthquake, and her students all survived. But, she said, she witnessed heart-breaking death and destruction.

Holding was supposed to stay in Haiti for a year. She had only been there since September, but the American Embassy flew her and dozens of others back home overnight.

"I didn't have the ability to do that much because I didn't have resources or connections to water. I was probably more of a burden and an extra mouth to feed," the young missionary said.

Mallory Holding says she wants to go back to Haiti but realizes it may be some time before that is possible. She plans to devote her efforts to try to raise money in the Chicago area.