Many Haitian-Americans commemorated seven years since Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010 at Brooklyn College’s student center on Jan. 12.
Students and guests sat for a moment of silence for the lives lost, performed cultural music, dances, and songs, and some guests recalled their lived experiences during the earthquake. One woman who barely escaped the earthquake called to mind her fears and being saved by a family member.
“It was terrible — I thought the world stopped because all I could see were houses around me all falling down,” said Shernidane Romulus, who lived in Port-au-Prince at the time.
“I got a little scratch and parts of the house fell on my feet. My uncle saved me — he had to break through the door to help me.”
In the aftermath of the earthquake Romulus said there were things she remembered that still haunts her memories. She and her family found refuge in their home’s backyard, but that didn’t stop their anxiety from aftershocks and more distressing the smell of death that permeated the city.
“We were scared to to go back inside the house, and we slept outside for three days before we could. But some people slept outside for months,” she said. “I will never forget the smell — it smelled so bad.”
Romulus who moved to the United States two years ago, said she was not sure if Haiti would recover from the devastation, but she remained hopeful and praised the resilience of her countrymen and women. She said the Haitian community should continue remembering the earthquake and become more involved in issues concerning their homeland.
“It’s important to keep remembering what happened because I never thought it be the same Haiti again, but we are still here and we are still human,” she said. “I also want to tell Haitian people it’s time to be concerned to what is happening in Haiti and put our heads together.”
Organizers say this annual commemoration is needed to keep the Haitian community united during times of sorrow, and Haitians should never forget the devastating incident that changed the country.
“We saw the need and importance for the Haitian-American community here to have a vigil to remember the victims of the earthquake and for us to come together in solidarity and support of others who lost family members during this tragic event,” said Menesky Magloire, one of the vigil’s organizers. “It is very important to me that we commemorate the 2010 earthquake, for the simple fact that we do not forget the victims and the fact that economic inequality and poverty play in the amount of victims this tragic event cause.”