What happened to Haiti’s little survivor?
Amid devastation, hope.
Haiti’s colossal earthquake of 2010 leveled entire neighborhoods, and the capital Port au Prince was a reeling. Rescue arrived too late for many and medical resources were scarce for the survivors. An estimated 200,000 were dead.
And yet, nearly eight days after the earth shook, a young boy emerged, gasping from the rubble. Lungs filled with dust and exhausted, five-year-old Monley Elysee was alive against all odds. Both his parents had perished in the quake, his mother lay dead meters away, but Elysee had survived, huddled under a metal table — a treacherous crawl space bent and buckled by the weight of concrete above it.
It was up to his uncle Gary to bring Elysee to the hospital in downtown Port au Prince for urgent attention. At the entrance the duo encountered CNN’s Anderson Cooper and crew, reporting on the aftermath of the earthquake.
“Suddenly this little boy was brought in, covered in cement dust and rubble dust, totally shocked,” Cooper recalls. “He wasn’t speaking, but he had made it.”
“To have the fortitude to survive all alone, in the terror and the dark, day after day after day,” he adds, marveling at the boy’s resilience. “[He’s] a sign of hope.”
Dehydrated and malnourished, Elysee was put on a drip and in the days that followed gradually regained his strength. Tracking his recovery, the AC 360 team brought the world’s attention to one of Haiti’s many children newly-orphaned by the earthquake. Elysee had lost 10 members of his family in the disaster, but his case was far from unique.
When the CNN crew returned home, they kept in touch with Elysee’s carers. Seven years on, the young Haitian is still fighting against the odds — but has come out swinging.