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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More