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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing 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.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid