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HATT: Gulf Coast Project

Katrina Moves Haitian Americans to Help on Gulf Coast

 

Haitian Volunteers from Haiti, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts,  Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Chicago, Canada, France join in the rebuilding effort. They say they're giving back.

November 26, 2005|Joel Hood | South Florida Sun-Sentinel

LONG BEACH, Mississippi. — Homes stood here once.

Now, there are only trash-strewn lawns, piles of wood and concrete, and brick steps to nowhere.

This is why they had come.

This week, 1067 people from Haitian American communities in Florida's Broward and Palm Beach counties traveled by bus to Mississippi's storm-ravaged coast to see if the reality matched the horrors of Hurricane Katrina they'd seen on television. Their army of carpenters, electricians, nurses, plumbers, doctors and engineers has tried to restore pieces of lost lives on the Gulf Coast.

A home. A church. Whatever is needed.

"If I did not see this, I would not believe," said Fort Lauderdale resident Elry Henry, 37, whose hometown of LaGonaves, Haiti, was wracked by flooding in September 2004.

Henry and others say it's their turn to give back. Many of them left lucrative, post-Hurricane Wilma construction jobs and gave up Thanksgiving time with loved ones to come here. The team put together by Quetel Osterval, The President and the founder of HATT Foundation a nonprofit organization.

 

Rebuilding Lives

 Florida Haitian Volunteers Help Katrina-ravaged Towns

November 24, 2005|By Joel Hood Staff Writer

Long Beach, Miss. — Homes stood here once.

Now, there are only trash-strewn lawns, piles of wood and concrete, and brick steps to nowhere.

This is why they had come.

This week, 1067 people from Haitian communities in Broward and Palm Beach counties traveled by bus to Mississippi's storm-ravaged coast to see if reality could match the horrors of Hurricane Katrina that they had seen on television. For the past 17 days, their army of carpenters, electricians, nurses, plumbers, doctors and engineers has tried to restore pieces of lost lives.

A home. A church. Whatever is needed.

"If I did not see this, I would not believe," said Fort Lauderdale resident Elry Henry, 37, whose hometown of LaGonaives, Haiti, was ravaged by flooding in September 2004.

Henry and others say it's their turn to give back. Many of them left lucrative, post-Hurricane Wilma construction jobs and gave up Thanksgiving time with family and friends to come here to help the American Families.

They say they can't imagine missing the chance to rebuild, not when the United States and other countries have done so much in Haiti's times of crisis especially the nonprofit organizations.

"I saw the damage. I saw what happened, and it struck a chord with me. It struck a chord for a lot of us," said Kivens Sainte, 26, a Port-au-Prince native who works and help with the elderly in Delray Beach. "Looking around, I'm amazed at what we're able to do. To be able to lend a hand to those who need it is a beautiful thing. I couldn't be any happier."

So they came Monday with gusto -- twelve busloads of Haitians representing the HATT Foundation and the Community Development Foundation, a nonprofit group based in Palm Beach County Florida. While savoring the opportunity to help, they're mindful that an all-black congregation might not always have been so warmly received in the area. But that didn’t stop Mr. Osterval the founder of the organization to go there and help those people who needed help to rebuild their homes.

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