HAITI—More than six months after the earthquake in Haiti, people there are still struggling to recover and rebuild. Rubble clutters the streets and more than a million are without homes.
Across the world, the emotional recovery continues for families that lost loved ones in the quake. Port Orchard resident Molly Hightower was killed while working with the non-profit group Friends of the Orphans.
Her family has decided to go and see where she spent her final days and learn more about the children their daughter was trying to help. Q13 FOX News was invited to join the Hightowers on their mission. We'll be bringing you stories of their experiences all week on Q13 FOX News at 9 & 10 p.m.
After the quake, a few items belonging to Molly were recovered from the building she was staying in. Mike and Mary Hightower were given a basket filled with photos; her favorite stuffed animal; and her hairbrush.
The months since the earthquake have seemed more like minutes; a blur of heartbreak and loss. "It's as we've called it; we've joined a club that nobody wants to belong to," Mike Hightower explains.
Before she died, Molly had asked family members to donate shoes for the children in Haiti. They collected 400 pairs, but the earthquake hit the day before they were planning to send them. When word spread about Molly's request for shoes, thousands of pairs started pouring in.
"What started as 400 shoes grew to 180,000 pair of shoes; that was amazing" Hightower says. "I used it kind of as therapy, you know to be working toward something that kept me close to Molly" he added.
Now, the shoes are right where Molly wanted them, but it's bittersweet for her family. "I'd give it all back - they can have all 180,000 shoes back; if we had Molly," he shares.
In the face of grief like theirs, there is no such thing as closure. But it was important to Molly's family to travel to Haiti, to see where she died and how she lived. "We hear about and see pictures and see the videos; but we didn't experience that face-to-face and that's what we're kind of going to do" Hightower says.
"I don't think the trip overall is going to be bad, we're just going to see where Molly left off," her brother Sean explains.
The Hightower's are looking forward to learning more about the places and people that Molly interacted with. They also hope Americans will remember the people in Haiti who still have a lot of rebuilding to do. "The orphanages; the kids going to the day school; just families, in general, need help" Hightower explains.