When Rev. Jean-Mary Reginald learned about the massive earthquake in Haiti, he reflexively walked to his church– Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti– and opened the doors. People began to arrive immediately. The church, he says, “is the living room” of the Haitian-American community in South Florida.
This hymn is the one you hear under our piece, “Faith in the Aftermath.” The original segment explores how parishioners at Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church here in Miami leaned on their faith and on song after their country’s massive earthquake– to heal and to release their grief.
In this episode, we look at how the Jan. 12 earthquake in Haiti changed life here in South Florida. We tell stories from a school that absorbed quake survivors, from a church that opened its doors to the grief-stricken, from lawyers’ offices where Haitians applied for an immigration shield, and from a hospital tent where tired doctors were uplifted by a song.
While I was reporting on the earthquake in Haiti, I was often taken aback by people singing. Walking down the street, a nun stretched her palms to the sky and seemed to be singing a question to the heavens. And on my last night in Port-au-Prince, I recorded quake survivors singing at 3 a.m., as they danced around a tent camp– no toilets, no air conditioning, little food– singing.
Hundreds of medical professionals rushed to Haiti after the quake, working in miserable conditions to save lives, practicing what some called “Civil War medicine.” Many still return to lend a hand, among them scores of Haitian-American nurses, doctors, and social workers from South Florida.
This piece reconstructs an inspiring moment amid tragedy and pain, at a makeshift hospital tent in Port-au-Prince. In it, four medical professionals from South Florida recount their experience landing in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, and struggling to meet a desperate need for medical help.
One describes the situation as “a war zone.” Another describes a feeling of worthlessness, given the scale of the catastrophe.
Gracia Desille is 57, a grandmother and a dry cleaner. After Haiti’s earthquake, she became one of thousands of Haitian-Americans in South Florida desperately searching for news about their families back home.
“I try try… call. I buy (phone) cards. I buy cards. So many cards…” she told me. “Nobody answers.”
The day after Haiti’s devastating quake I walked into Notre Dame D’Haiti church in Miami to find people singing hymns, their palms turned to the sky, their rosary beads swinging gently. Some knelt, slouching over the pews in front of them, heads buried– a posture that suggested grief as much as prayer.
Little Haiti seemed to be moving in slow motion as people first grappled with the magnitude of the destruction in their homeland.
We caught up with hip-hop artist Mecca aka Grimo at a recent TPS rally. TPS (Temporary Protected Status) is short-hand for a legal shield that allows immigrants to remain in the United States temporarily, while their home country recovers from natural disaster, or unrest. Haiti has seen plenty of both, but Haitians have never received the protection.
Good food and good stories are two of life’s greatest pleasures. I usually write about food at Miami Dish, but today Under the Sun ventures into the culinary world. Last Sunday, I saw Liliane Nerette Louis present at the Historical Museum of South Florida. She is all about good food and good stories; she is both an honored storyteller and a masterful cook.