Two Years Later, Haitians in NY Reflect on Earthquake

Thousands of Haitians in New York will mark the second anniversary of the earthquake that devastated their homeland on Thursday.

In SS. Joachim and Anne parish in Queens Village, which is 85 percent Haitian, evening mass in remembrance of victims will deliver a message of hope.

“My homily – it will basically be based on the resurrection,” said Rev. Jean-Moise Delva, 36, the church’s vicar. “We need to focus as people of faith that death is not an end.”

About 316,000 people died in Haiti, according to the country’s government. Some parishioners in SS. Joachim and Anne lost as many as six family members, Delva said.

From the Sunday after the earthquake when the church was packed with parishioners to today, the second anniversary of the tragedy, Delva said he sees his community as stronger.

“Where as many, many, many people lost their lives, you can see the goodness that comes out of it,” Delva said.

Help that has been extended to Haiti from the U.S. and the world has been encouraging to many, including David Duchatellier, 55, from Elmont, New York.

Born in Haiti, he came to the U.S. in 1975 at the age of 19. He lost two cousins, ages 3 and 8 in the earthquake.

“Every time this date comes you reflect on yourself and you remember what had happened, where you were,” he said. “It’s always good to see that people get together.”

Since February 2010, he has organized shipping of over 220 barrels of food and clothing to schools, individuals, churches and organizations in Haiti.

Angeline Moreau, 44, who is a member of SS. Joachim and Anne, has also made four trips to Haiti to deliver food supplies. She lost 11 cousins and extended family members in the earthquake.

“The wait was the most horrifying because we were waiting and waiting and waiting and we didn’t hear from anyone for days,” Moreau said, remembering the event that ravaged the country she left at the age of nine.

On the second anniversary, Moreau said she felt comforted by having been able to help her homeland, as well as seeing the world do the same.

“I feel like the people in the States and everywhere have actually helped tremendously … the Haitian people cope with what happened two years ago,” she said.