News / USA

    School in Queens, New York Hit Hard by Earthquake in Haiti

    A class in earthquake science at Saints Joachim and Anne School in New York
    A class in earthquake science at Saints Joachim and Anne School in New York

    Related Articles

    Multimedia

    About 250,000 Haitians and Haitian-Americans live in the New York area, many of them first-generation immigrants or their children. When the earthquake hit Haiti on January 12, it also struck at those New Yorkers, uprooting or killing family members and destroying landmarks and homes where generations had lived.  At Saints Joachim and Anne School, a Catholic school in Queens where 80 percent of students are from immigrant Haitian families, the destruction is deep. Almost everyone lost family members in the earthquake.

    Nine-year-old Joshua Nelson Joseph was in Haiti visiting family when the earthquake hit. “We were shaking and shaking,” Joshua recalled recently. “I had my little cousin and she was crying. And we were walking and walking. And then and this house was about to fall on us, and this person came and holded the house so that it doesn't fall on us. Everyone says that God was with us.”

    Relatives of vicar Rev. Jean-Moise Delva were eventually all found alive, though their homes were destroyed. He is concerned now with helping children, both those at his school and in Haiti. “[Especially] those who are orphans back home in Haiti,” he said. “Right now they do they need our prayer, and prayer is the answer, I think, at this moment.”

    The school is selling t-shirts to families and friends to raise money for victims in Haiti. The first child to receive his shirt one day recently was six-year-old Michael Constant, whose own father died in the quake.  Michael’s mother recently left for Haiti to bury her husband. Other children have lost cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents.  “Every single one of them has lost someone,” said school principal Linda Freebes, including Haitian-born teachers and staff. “People are missing nine, ten people at a time.”

    She said that the school is trying to help with the immediate trauma through charity projects for Haiti and grief counseling, religious lessons, and memorial Masses in the church next door. Another way of coping is through science classes in plate tectonics, where students are learning about why the earthquake happened, and how it caused so much destruction.

    “Disasters happen in the world, and we know that from history, but it doesn't mean that God doesn't love us,” Freebes said. “We meet every morning and we discuss what we're going to do to sacrifice for Haiti. We talk about it, and tomorrow the children are going to bring in cans of food for the food pantry.” Just being in school is also a help, she added. “It’s a way of not thinking about [their loss] for a while, even if in their hearts they have it.”

    But she said that even the best education and counseling can’t reverse the grief and anger of those touched by the earthquake. Only time can do that. “Many of the children go to Haiti at Christmas, and on vacation in the summer, and when they see it on television -- those are places they have been to. They see the streets that they’ve walked on. Their country is in ruins. And every single one of them looks at it, and says, ‘This is where my mom, dad grew up. And look at it.’”

    “I think as time goes on, we will see more and more of the anger showing through. Or the quiet,” Freebes said. “That's what one of the children said to me: ‘I don't know when it's worse: when my grandmother cries, or when she doesn't say anything.’”

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora