Haitian expatriates gather in FargoFARGO, N.D. - Haitian expatriates gathered Sunday in Fargo, showing fellowship and support for each other and friends and relatives suffering in the aftermath of last week’s devastating earthquake in their homeland.
By: John Lamb, INFORUM, Worthington Daily Globe
FARGO, N.D. - Haitian expatriates gathered Sunday in Fargo, showing fellowship and support for each other and friends and relatives suffering in the aftermath of last week’s devastating earthquake in their homeland.
About 40 people ranging from small children to adults gathered for a special service at Golden Ridge Lutheran Church, which also houses the Tri City Haitian Ministry.
The two-hour service featured hymns, testimonials and sermons in French and Creole, the dominant languages of Haiti, and some in English.
“The message today was to let our community know we have to work together with whatever we can so we can help our country and the people who hurt,” Paul Aladin of the Haitian Ministry said after the service.
Some in the church were clearly hurting as well. A number of congregants doubled over, crying and screaming as others moved to console them with hugs and tissues.
“Today is more emotional because everyone here has someone who is hurt,” he said. He gestured to his wife, adding that she knew someone who escaped a collapsing house only to die later in a hospital without needed help.
“Right now it’s bad, worse than yesterday. Every day will get worse for the next few days,” he said, adding that the government is in “disarray.”
“The government still doesn’t know what to do to save people,” he said.
While the earthquake brought disaster, he said some good can come of it, if it brings change.
“Relief is the first step, but recovery is a long-term process,” Aladin said.
Aladin and Pastor Exavier Saintal both praised their new home, America, for stepping forward, and particularly Fargo for offering assistance.
“I am very proud of this community,” Aladin said.
Both men are part of United Hearts for Haiti, a charity group that returns to their homeland to work for better education, drinking water and power.
“We don’t want help every day,” Saintal said. “We want to show them how to take care of themselves. Life is not easy anywhere.”
But Aladin was disheartened by the words of televangelist Pat Robertson who said Haitians were suffering because they made a pact with the devil for their freedom.
“I think it’s very sad that someone who believes in God say something like this,” Aladin said. “Natural disasters have nothing to do with religion. Nothing to do with the devil. Earthquakes happen. It’s unfortunate, especially (from) someone Christian who speaks the word of God to say this. We believe God will heal us.”
Aladin said the board of directors for United Hearts for Haiti will meet at 6 p.m. Jan. 26 to discuss what they can do next to help their home country.