SAN DIEGO — A Haiti earthquake survivor moved to San Diego to return a favor. In this Zevely Zone, I meet a nurse with a special calling at Scripps Memorial in La Jolla.
The people of Haiti may live 3,000 miles away from San Diego, but this nurse carries their spirit with him to work every single day. "It was like a whole pack of elephants or rhinos running toward the house, that's what it sounded like," said Roobens Joujoute. In 2010, a devastating earthquake in Haiti killed more than one hundred thousand people.
"Everything was shaking in the house, the table, the furniture was falling over the TV was coming toward us," said Roobens.
His home was flattened and several of his family members were killed. "I am very lucky to be alive," said Roobens. Following the earthquake, Scripps Health sent several medical rescue teams to Haiti. "I remember it like it was just yesterday," said Chris Van Gorder. The CEO of Scripps Health was just a mile away from Roobens' home and put together a book about the rescue mission. "Most of the buildings were completely collapsed, the whole environment, everything was pancaked," said Chris.
Although Roobens never saw the Scripps medical team, he moved to San Diego seven years ago with a purpose. "San Diego is amazing," said Roobens. He came here to pay back the help Americans gave his homeland. "Oh, for sure," said Roobens. He felt powerless after the earthquake and never wanted to feel that way again. "This desire to help people. This is one of the reasons I am a nurse today you know?" said Roobens who wants to pay it all back as a registered nurse at Scripps. "It's being able to connect with people," said Roobens.
"It was a big surprise when I found out he was working here," said Chris. "This young man fortunately survived. He comes to San Diego and ends up working for us. It just kind of reminds me of how much we did do."
For Roobens, the key for anyone starting their life over is hope. "It's just believing in yourself, believing that it's possible," said Roobens. "Work hard and pray hard."
If there is another earthquake, he could be headed back to Haiti. "That is one of the plans," said Roobens. "Full circle. It's a small world, it's a very small world." Roobens was knocked unconscious by the 7.0 magnitude earthquake but walked away with no major injuries.
Watch more Zevely Zone content below: