Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere. On Jan. 12, 2010, a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, killing more than 160,000 and displacing close to 1.5 million people.

In the aftermath, thousands were sitting in the streets with nowhere to go. Houses had been seen tumbling into ravines, while many two or three story buildings just didn’t make it. Survivors were running, crying, screaming and trying to dig victims out with flashlights. Bodies white with dust were being piled on the back of pick-up trucks as vehicles ferried the injured to the hospitals.

Amid the devastation, as rescue workers feverishly worked round the clock to save lives, a boy was also found buried alive under the ruins.

This is his story of survival.

The young man had already despaired of being rescued, but his mother had not. She wandered among the debris in the area where she imagined her son to be. She kept on shouting his name, saying, “We’re here looking for you. Hold on and we will get to you soon.”

The mother had no idea if her child heard her or not. But her maternal instinct told her to keep shouting these words of encouragement. On the verge of unconsciousness, her son could not reply, but he heard her. What kept him holding on to the thin tread of life? His mother’s message of love—her continuously call—invigorated him until the workers finally reached him.

The 24th of the month of Tevet on the Jewish calendar is the anniversary of the passing of the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in 1812. I believe this story encapsulates in a concise nutshell the Alter Rebbe’s integral message to us.

Centuries after proudly standing at Mount Sinai and openly witnessing G‑d’s revelation, we have collectively and personally suffered the spiritual, emotional and physical ravages of exile. As a nation, we have been persecuted, hated and terrorized, forced to wander from one country to another. Spiritually, we remain semi-conscious and apathetic, holding on to our faith with our last ounces of strength.

But the Alter Rebbe teaches that each one of us has within them an actual part of G‑d. This core is untainted and unsullied by the difficulties of life and helps us stay strong. Each of us, too, is connected to a loving Creator who is watching as we struggle with the debris that surrounds us while still cheering us on, calling our names and not giving up on us.

May we finally witness the day when our world no longer experiences devastation and fragmentation and when we can live in peace and harmony.