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Los Angeles Haitian Community Raises Funds for Earthquake Victims

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Mike O'Sullivan

Haitian immigrant communities around the United States have been mobilizing help for victims of the earthquake, which brought destruction to the island nation Tuesday. The Haitian community there has seen an outpouring of money and support.

Major charities, including the American Red Cross, have collected tens-of-thousands of dollars in donations at two large sports venues - the Rose Bowl and Angel Stadium.  The Los Angeles Haitian community has been doing its own fundraising.  A small Haitian restaurant raised $14,000 in an evening.  Sunday, members of the local immigrant community came to a storefront church to discuss the relief effort with local officials.

Haitian-born Eugel Nicoleau Jr. says the events of the past week have been a shock. 

Eugel Nicoleau, Jr.
Eugel Nicoleau, Jr.

"It took a toll on me, but by God's grace, as I saw how the government here in America and the world at large took charge to help the Haitians - my people, our Haitian people - it was great," he said.

Some in the local Haitian community are first-generation immigrants. Others have more distant ties. 

Rosanita Ratcliff says her grandfather's side of the family came from Haiti, and she has always admired the Haitians for their long history of political independence.  She is impressed now with the worldwide outpouring to help the Haitians.

Rosanita Ratcliff
Rosanita Ratcliff

"Aid came from countries that Haiti didn't have contact with, really, in the past - Russia, China, Mexico, South America.  The outpouring from the United States in relief to Haiti has just been amazing," she said.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, whose district includes many minorities and immigrants in South Central Los Angeles, says rebuilding Haiti won't be easy, and will take a comprehensive plan, like the one implemented in Europe after World War II by then U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall.

"Emergency relief is fine, and we've got to do what we need to do right now to find people, to save lives, to give water and food and shelter.  But this needs a real Marshall plan [to redevelop Haiti] over the long term, and that's what we've all got to be supportive of," she said.

Haitian community member Patrick Woolley has words of encouragement for the people of Haiti.

Patrick Woolley
Patrick Woolley

"I want to tell you, what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.  In our history, we've been pushed, we've been shoved, we've fallen, but we've always managed to wipe off the dust and get up and run, not walk, but run.  So stay strong, everyone," he said.

The Hollywood community is pitching in with the effort.  A telethon Friday will feature Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean and actor George Clooney.  The fundraiser will originate in Los Angeles, New York and Haiti.
 

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