News / Americas

High-Tech Charity Effort Helps Haitian Quake Survivors

Clothilde Derosier talks to her family members in Port-au-Prince, Haiti via high definition teleconference at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic church in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010
Clothilde Derosier talks to her family members in Port-au-Prince, Haiti via high definition teleconference at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic church in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010
TEXT SIZE - +

Snyder seems like a normal, happy three-year-old. Around his torso is a white plastic brace that he is required to wear as he heals after hours-long surgery for a broken back. He sustained the injury when a block of cement from his home fell on the bed where he was resting during the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that devastated his homeland on January 12. 

Snyder laughs and plays with two muscular men he considers to be new playmates - after all they've just given him a cap and football to play with. He is playing catch and has no idea these guys are NFL stars: Miami Dolphins football players Jason Ferguson and Reggie Torbor.

Seated next to him, mom Clothilde Derosier, 25, is grateful for the gifts and thrilled at the opportunity to see and talk to family members she left behind in February, when she was flown out of Haiti to accompany her seriously injured son.  

In front of her is a huge flat-screen monitor adorned with an HD (high definition) video camera that allows her mom, dad, sister, brother and grandfather to see her too. They are smiling and seem as concerned about how she is living in the United States as she is about their living conditions in the devastated Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

Clothilde's reunion is one of many planned for this week, thanks to a joint effort by the Miami Dolphins Foundation, the University of Miami Global Institute and Project Medishare for Haiti.  Executive producer David Saltz of ABC television says he's worked on this project since the beginning of the year and is thrilled it has accomplished more than he ever imagined.

David Saltz with Haitian earthquake survivor Nathana Gerome, 13, 7 Apr 2010
David Saltz with Haitian earthquake survivor Nathana Gerome, 13, 7 Apr 2010

"Today when Jason Ferguson and Reggie from the Dolphins came down and gave this little three-year-old boy a football, you know, that changed his life. That touched him in a way that we'll never know the impact of that," Saltz said. "Him being lit up like that, wearing his hat, getting signatures from important sports personalities in America - that touched him in a deep way."

The technology used to reconnect Haitian families was originally designed to help doctors diagnose and communicate with patients over long distances. Quake victims sit in a room at the Notre Dame D'Haiti church in Little Haiti, while family members gather in a similarly equipped room set up at the Project Medishare field hospital facility at a military air base in Port-au-Prince.

During her 20-minute conversation, Clothilde discussed the whereabouts of her one-year-old son, Youri, whom she left behind and hopes to reunite with soon. She says she's relieved now that she's seen and spoken with her family.

Clothilde Derosier, 25, with son Snyder, 3, after the teleconference at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic church in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010
Clothilde Derosier, 25, with son Snyder, 3, after the teleconference at Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic church in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010

"I was thrilled to see my father, my uncle, my cousins, my mom, but even though I was happy to see them - since I hadn't since February 1," she said.  "But on the other hand I don't feel good knowing that I'm here where I can eat and drink, I have clothes, shoes, perfume, creams.... everything is taken care of, I'm not sure how much all that costs - meanwhile my family sometimes goes hungry, they have nothing to eat."

Clothilde's family encouraged her to stay in the United States, get an education, and be successful - perhaps study nursing.  

"Haiti is not a place now where you can prosper and have the freedoms that you have in America, so for us to be able to open those doors I think has been a great part of the program and we plan to keep it going," Saltz noted. "It's a remarkable experience that uses this technology and this wonderous ability that we've achieved for such great things....You know our whole world now has become so backwards in all the negative things that are promoted through technology - whether it's bad news and disasters like Haiti or it's things that are so unimportant in our world about celebrity news and private relations and affairs - this is something that's so positive."

Miami Dolphins Jason Ferguson, left, and Reggie Torbor with Haiti earthquake survivor Snyder, 3 in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010
Miami Dolphins Jason Ferguson, left, and Reggie Torbor with Haiti earthquake survivor Snyder, 3 in Little Haiti, 7 Apr 2010

Dolphins' Ferguson says it meant a lot to him to participate in the reunion.

"It was amazing to see families getting joined together like that, and knowing you haven't seen your loved ones in so long, and all of a sudden you're provided with a chance to see them and talk to them - I just think that's amazing and just being around them I think it's really touching to see that to see that," he said.

Torbor echoed that sentiment, adding that it also provided a refreshing contrast to his normal routine.

"It was humbling. Just in our lives we kind of live in a box so to speak, and you have your issues and things going on and to just come here and see that she [Clothilde] can't find her one-year-old child and hasn't seen her parents and things like that, you know it just makes a soft spot.  But yet to see that they're so happy and so thankful for everything that they have," said Torbor.  "No one over there is sad. All they can talk about is how happy they are for their daughter and that she came to the United States. That's not something you see in our society a lot."

Executive producer Saltz says each session includes a celebrity appearance.  The inaugural teleconference on Easter Sunday, which reunited a young girl critically injured in the earthquake with her family, featured Prakazrel "Pras" Michel Jean, a member of the Fugees musical group. He travelled to Haiti the following day, according to Saltz to visit the Medishare project.

Saltz says Sun Life stadium and the Miami Dolphins plan to keep the system available indefinitely for families thanks to the "generous" support of Cisco.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support
More

Colombian Novelist Garcia Marquez Dies at 87

Author of 'One Hundred Years of Solitude' won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982
More

Salsa Legend Cheo Feliciano Dies in Car Crash

Police say singer was alone in his jaguar when he hit a post before sunrise Thursday
More

NY Times: US Deportation of Illegal Immigrants Declines

Obama has come under increasing pressure from immigration advocates who have accused him of moving too slowly on immigration reform
More

Argentina's Fight with Bondholders Reaches US Supreme Court

The case concerns whether investors can force banks with which Argentina does business to disclose information about the country's non-US assets
More

As Fires Die Down, Chileans Return to Ravaged Valparaiso

Many of victims in the city, part gritty port and part colorful retreat, were poor people in houses perched high on the city's remote hills
More