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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid