My name is Darlene Bertil and I’m from Haiti. I’ve been in the U.S. for three years. I was the assistant bartender at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince and had just started my shift when the earthquake happened on January 12th, 2010. The whole building collapsed and I was trapped with the bartender for a couple of days. He passed away two hours before they found us. I was taken to a U.S. Navy ship, where they amputated both of my hands. I then came here to New York City where I got my prosthetics and therapy in order for me to be functional.

Therapy helped me learn how to do everyday activities without thinking about the prosthetics. Whenever I accomplish a task without any help, it makes me really proud. Everything that happened has made me more compassionate and more understanding. I am precious in God’s eyes. I’m closer to my family and friends than ever before. And, most importantly, I am happy.

I stayed in the United States, so I could attend school; and I think I’m doing well. After graduating from Queensborough Community College, I plan to attend Hunter or Queens College and major in psychology. I also plan on continuing my education and receiving a master’s. I’m looking forward to being a school counselor or maybe a clinical psychologist, focusing on young people, who are experiencing some psychological issues. I want to work with people who are physically challenged. My goal is to set up a rehabilitation center in Haiti for children with disabilities.

Darline graduated from Queensborough Community College and is now enrolled at Hunter College, where she is getting her bachelor’s degree.