As Haitians living in the U.S. await news from missing relatives, they seek solace among others who share their experiences of grief and hope.
The five people huddled in two pews at St. Mary Church in Randolph had never met.
But when the church opened its doors Thursday to those affected by the earthquake in Haiti, they sought solace among strangers.
“I can’t sleep, man. I can’t sleep,” said Colson Lochard of Randolph.
Lochard said his two daughters are now living on the street in Port-au-Prince.
“The security in Haiti is bad,” he said. “That’s giving them a lot of problems.”
Suzette Larose of Brockton said many members of her family are still missing.
Jean-Riguel Ulysse, the former Republican Town Committee chairman who represents the parish on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, translated Larose’s words from Creole to English.
“It’s heartbreaking,” he said. “(It’s) her blood, her country, her brothers and sisters.”
Ulysse, a Haitian-American who came to the United States in 1984, is a source of support for many Haitians. Parishioners line up to speak to him, seeking counsel and reassurance.
Ulysse shares their pain. He is waiting to hear from a sister in Haiti.
Asked how he was dealing with all of the grief, Ulysse shook his head and said he just had to stop crying.
But he wiped tears from his eyes as he described the suffering he had seen on television.
“You’re seeing people with no place to stay, schools literally destroyed, (no) basic water. You see them lined up. And some of them were prominent people. We lost a lot of good, honest people.”
Ulysse said he has trouble making sense of the destruction. If it had been an act of mankind, at least there would be someone to blame.
The consolation, he said, is the growing closeness within his parish.
“As I open up to them, they open up to me, and (I) see the love and compassion,” he said. “They’re people of faith. They’re strong people.”
While many Haitian-Americans wait for news from family members, some have been reassured by good news.
“My closest family members – my sisters, my nieces, my sister-in-law – they’re doing fine,” said Max St. Louis of Randolph. “I have a cousin who lost her 24-year-old son. We found out on Friday (of last week). Besides that, I can say that we were one of the lucky ones.”
Because of missing records, it might be a long time before St. Louis and his wife, Sonia, know whether some of their uncles and cousins in Haiti survived the earthquake.
“It will take some time for us to figure out what exactly we lost in terms of human life,” he said. “Basically, we are in it for the long haul, like the people back in Haiti are in it.”
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