By the time her charter plane eases onto the darkened Port-au-Prince landing strip, the control tower is out of commission. Magalie and her CBS crew emerge onto the tarmac, eerily quiet in the early morning hours of January 13, 2010. Endless lines of people curl around the building, faces bandaged and blood-soaked, bones protruding, bodies askew . . . waiting quietly for a medical evacuation.
CBS News Anchor at that time, Katie Couric, is beside her, attempting to broadcast to the world the status of Haiti the morning after a staggering 7.0 earthquake. For the crew, it is a harrowing assignment. For Magalie, it is home.
Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson grew up spending her summers in Haiti with her extended family; speaking French as her first language at home and at school, eating rice and beans and fried pork surrounded by her Haitian clan - all while growing up in New York city. Let's be clear, she says with a laugh. I am Haitian. It's my DNA.
When she joined Channel 5 as an intern in 1990, later NBC, then CBS - I was always the Haiti envoy, she recalls. So, it was no surprise when Katie called her to leave behind her young children and head for Haiti the day of the deadly earthquake. She didn't know how they could even get there or what she would find once there.
She found human corpses littering the streets, that's what. She found a hotel - the only one open - a brothel. She found a cholera outbreak ten months later when she returned to do a 60 Minutes story. A makeshift settlement of people living on a highway median. Hungry children. Magalie, fluent in Creole, translated and navigated through frightened communites and became a bridge for her team to speak with survivors there. Later, 60 Minutes captured live video of their Producer taking in the scale of this disaster on a powerful segment of 60 Minutes Overtime, revealing Magalie's heart in Haiti. It's hard to watch, I warn you. And watching it, I cannot stop, so deeply I am moved.
My friend and Ibu Ambassador, Meryanne Loum-Martin (above right) introduced me to Magalie and her compelling life as a global citizen. When I asked Magalie to bring light and support to women artisans in developing countries as a Face of Ibu, she responded humbly, with a beautiful honesty in the video below.
The Haiti government has failed the people, she says. All they need is to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder, but it is hard to do even that. Once they have just a small boost, they are enterprising, they are smart, they are the fabric of a revolution!
Which is why she has graced Ibu with her beautiful face, her powerful support - to elevate those who have nothing and yet can do anything. Magalie has a huge heart for her people, and for the people of the world she daily covers in her work. Getting a foot on the ladder is all she asks. Just the first rung. From there, she knows, she believes, she has seen . . . the women of this world will rise as with wings. I couldn't agree more.
They will soar.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker
Click on the picture above to see Magalie explain why she chose to be a Face of Ibu.