Haiti outreach gets aid on MLK’s day

Posted by Lee Gordon on 16th January 2010

JANUARY 16, 2010
Haiti outreach gets aid on MLK’s day
Hawaii’s network of Haitians connect to share precious information
By Rob Shikina

The peace bell tolled not only in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., but also for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

It was the 22nd annual birthday celebration held by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Coalition Hawaii at the Nagasaki Peace Bell on the grounds of Honolulu Hale last night.

Pat Anthony, president of the coalition, said it made sense to seek relief aid for Haitians during King’s birthday celebration.

King, born on Jan. 15, 1929, stood for helping the poor, not just blacks, she said.

She said King, who was assassinated 42 years ago, would have opposed the poverty in Haiti that existed before the earthquake hit.

“It’s in our back door and it’s a Third World country,” she said.

Patrick Elie, a petty officer third class in the Navy Reserves, wore a Haitian flag on his back during the ceremony.

Bells will be ringing to not only raise awareness of the Haitian disaster but to raise money as well.

“We have communication finally, about 50 percent,” he said.

But three days after the quake, he still had not spoken with his father, cousin and uncles in Haiti where 50,000 people are said to have died.

It was only through the fortune of a miscall that he learned his father is alive.

He had been trying to reach people by phone in his hometown of Delmas when a man called him back, asking whether he had called.

Elie said he did not know who the man, but told him he was looking for news of his family, and the man said he would try to find out.

When the man called back, he said others had seen Elie’s father in a store and that he is OK. Elie found comfort in the news.

“I know he’s alive,” he said. “It’s hard not knowing what’s going on.”

He heard his uncles are OK but has not heard whether his cousin survived.

While information on family members is trickling out, Elie worries about the relief effort and the people lacking food and water.

He said he has spoken to others in Haiti who told him “it’s like the end of the world.”

People are fighting over food. Someone told him people had torn open a bag of rice a man was carrying, spilling the rice on the ground.

He also worries about the bodies decomposing in 90-degree heat, and disease.

Elie and other Haitians in Hawaii have been networking to share information on loved ones.

He said he hopes people will help as much as they can by donating through the Red Cross.

“I want to thank the Hawaiian people for helping,” he said.

Elie is trying to volunteer for a military unit to return to his country and help.

Meanwhile, others at the King celebration made donations to the Red Cross, which had representatives at the event.

Sharon Yarbrough of Nuuanu said she wanted to be there to ring the bell and say a prayer for a friend who was awaiting word on whether her father had survived.

“It was all for a good cause,” she said.

The peace bell tolled not only in memory of Martin Luther King Jr., but also for the victims of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Categories: 2010