Saturday, February 27, 2010

"We Wail with You, Haiti"

(Photo by John Carroll of La Promesse, the grade school that collapsed in Port-au-Prince in 2008. Approximately 90 students and teachers were killed.)

February 26, 2010

‘We Wail With You, Haiti’

On Jan. 13, the day after the earthquake that upended Haiti, Garry Pierre-Pierre, editor and publisher of The Haitian Times, moved the center of operations for his weekly newspaper from Brooklyn to a tent in the backyard of a damaged apartment building in Port-au-Prince. If he was going to cover one of the most transformative events in the history of the country and its diaspora, he knew there was only one place for him to be.

“The human factor is sometimes missing in stories about faraway places,” said Mr. Pierre-Pierre, who has since published a steady stream of articles that provided an intimate and sensitive portrayal of events on the ground. “I knew if I didn’t go, we also would not have provided it.”

Mr. Pierre-Pierre and his colleagues at The Times have written a portrait of one street in Port-au-Prince and its survivors, for example, and another article about the challenges faced by a team of doctors, including some Haitian-Americans, from New York.

In another report, in the Jan. 20-26 issue, the paper detailed the desperate exodus of Haitians from the capital, including a mother with two small children, one of whom had a heart ailment, and a metal worker anxious both to let his mother know that he had survived and to get back to work.

It is no surprise that The Times and New York’s three other weekly Haitian newspapers, Haiti Liberté, Haiti Observateur and Haiti Progres, have been dominated by stories about the disaster.

But many of the hundreds of other ethnic newspapers in New York — like the daily Novoye Russkoye Slovo, a Russian paper, and El Tiempo de New York, a Hispanic weekly — have run stories revealing particular perspectives on the earthquake and its aftermath.

The weekly Peruanisimo News, for example, reported on a fund-raiser for Haiti in Paterson, N.J. The fund-raiser was organized by Peruvians, and Paterson is a stronghold of the Peruvian population in the region.

The New York Carib News wrote about post-earthquake psychological counseling for Caribbean vendors on Flatbush Avenue, supplied by a Brooklyn hospital and a Caribbean-American business group. And Thikana, a Bangladeshi weekly based in Long Island City, Queens, exhorted Bangladeshis in the United States and elsewhere in the world to donate generously to relief efforts.

Here are excerpts from local Albanian, Chinese and Filipino newspapers.

Haiti in Our Minds

A wail is a type of sound any human being would find difficulty hearing. It is not borne out of emotional stress, but rather of grieving souls and broken spirits. As of this writing, there is constant wailing in Haiti. A catastrophic earthquake struck the capital three days ago, destroying almost every edifice and burying about 100,000 people to their untimely deaths. It is a disaster of unimaginable proportion and could certainly cause a grave humanitarian crisis...

There are reports that Filipinos that are members of the United Nations peacekeeping team are among those trapped in the ruins of collapsed buildings. The Philippine ambassador to the U.N., Hilario Davide, said that all Filipinos in the team are accounted for. This is a time when we all become one in grief with our fellow human beings. This is a time when nationalities cease to exist. This a time when we must do whatever we can to send help to those affected by the killer quake. We Filipinos are not strangers to this situation. In September of 2009, we ourselves were devastated when Typhoon Ondoy struck our capital. The world came together to aid us in those dark times. Now is our chance to reciprocate the good will that we received...

Haiti may be across the oceans, but we are all human beings, and we share their pain. We wail with you, Haiti.

—TED REYES, Jan. 18

The Filipino Express, based in Jersey City, has a weekly circulation of 35,000.

Fate of Hundreds of Smuggled Chinese Unknown

In recent years, Haiti has become an important junction for smuggled Chinese on their way to the United States. As a result of the heavy casualties of the earthquake in the region, the status of hundreds of smuggled Chinese waiting to go to the United States is uncertain...

Chen, a Fujian family association administrator, said that there are some smuggled ethnic Chinese that have been hidden inside Haitian residences through arrangements made by snakeheads, that these smuggled Chinese would not in any way be registered with the local government and that for this reason they could be easily overlooked during any rescue attempt. Fujian family associations in New York are calling on the Haitian government, Chinese peacekeeping forces and international rescue teams to look into the safety of the smuggled Chinese. An overseas Chinese community leader revealed that a woman from Changle had called New York asking for help in inquiring about the whereabouts of her son in Haiti. She said, "It's enough that he's alive. Whether or not he makes it to the United States is not important."

—CAO JIAN, Jan. 14

Translation from Mandarin by Jeffrey E. Singer

The World Journal, founded in 1976, is the largest Chinese-language newspaper in North America, with a circulation of 300,000. Its New York headquarters are in Whitestone, Queens.

Famous Famiglia Donates $12,000 for the Victims in Haiti

This horror of catastrophic dimensions hit hard Pierre Louis, the Haitian immigrant who lost six members of his family in this national tragedy. This loss touched even more personally the owners of Famous Famiglia, the Kolaj brothers (Paul, George, John and Tony), as well as the brothers Idrizi, employers of Pierre Louis, here in New York City. They organized a candlelight vigil in one of their restaurants accompanied with an initiative to help Pierre Louis and his people. The young voices of the Harlem Choir were invited to perform several songs. An all-day fund-raiser was launched in the restaurant, which is situated in Midtown Manhattan, with all the proceeds of the day, about $12,000, going to a humanitarian relief fund dedicated to help Haiti. A representative of the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund thanked the owners of Famous Famiglia for their generosity in these hard times for the people of Haiti. It is worth remembering that the Kolaj brothers, who are ethnic Albanians, were involved also in the fund-raising campaign held a few days earlier to help the flooding victims in the area of Shkodra, in northern Albania.

—HALIL MULA, Jan. 22

Translation by Ruben Avxhiu

Illyria, published twice a week, is an Albanian-language newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 and has offices in Manhattan.

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