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Local author launches memoir of surviving Haiti earthquake

It started as a class trip and ended with a rescue mission.

In 2010 a group of students arrived in Haiti to work on a humanitarian project; just four hours later the devastating earthquake hit.

Owen Spears shares his experience waiting for rescue – and about the kindness of locals – in his memoir, Hour Four: Surviving the Earthquake in Haiti. The local launch of Spears’ book takes place Thursday, March 5 at 7 p.m. at the Nelson Public Library.

Spears, 17 years old at the time, embarked on the trip to Haiti as part of a group of Mount Sentinel Secondary students going to do humanitarian work. After the earthquake, all they could think about was survival and rescue. 

In his book, he reflects, “We had come to help the Haitians, but instead we required their help.”  Eventually, not knowing how long until they would be rescued and keenly aware that there would be no rescue for the local people, the students decided to give back by buying rice to give away.

Spears, who lives with cerebral palsy, found it difficult mentally and physically to write the book. “Going through and having to relive some of the moments in the book were incredibly hard and often left me in tears or with a throbbing headache. It took a lot of emotional effort to write some scenes,” Spears says.

“Although the focus of the memoir is my personal experience, it’s really to shine a flashlight into the darkness of what happened in Haiti,” Spears continues. “The country went through–and continues to go through–a lot of hard times, so ultimately this is what I hope people take from the book”.

Books will be available for sale; $5 of every book purchase will be donated to Haiti Arise, a community-based charity.