Smith Paul, 19|
Smith came to live in the U.S. from Haiti four years ago after his father met an American woman on the Royal Carribean cruise ship where he worked. She offered to help him get an American education and he now lives with her and her family in State College, Pa. He is a senior at Grace Prep High School.
Tuesday night, one of my friends called me and he said, 'Hey, did you see the news? There was an earthquake. It's really bad. You gotta find out if your family's okay.'
All of a sudden I was just not happy and I wanted to hear from my family badly. I spent at least half an hour trying to call but the phone did not ring at all. And so I went upstairs and started talking to my host mom and we went on the internet and boom, everything was on there. It was just like my happiness just went away. My heart just broke.
I've not been able to communicate with any of my family members and that really hurts. And I still can't get through and I mean, I just want to hear from them but now I'm just shocked because I don't know if they're okay.
Haiti is already a poor country and this is not making it any better. What just happened is gonna make it worse. Or it's already bad like the palace got destroyed and so many people died.
I guess with God, everything's going to be okay and I trust him but I've lost my happiness. I'm trying to get it back though because I know that God does everything for a reason. It might be really hard now for the Haitians and for anybody else to see that God did this for a good reason but I know for sure that he's gonna do something good out of this.
I want to keep a positive attitude and keep my head up and I guess get my happiness back again. But it's still heartbreaking when so many people die.
I wish I was there to pray with people and encourage them.
It's hard for me because this is where I grew up.
Naeemah Philippeaux, 19
Naeemah's parents left Haiti for Brooklyn, N.Y., when they were teenagers. She lost an uncle and an aunt after the earthquake hit. Naeemah attends the University of Pennsylvania.
The past couple of days have been very stressful. You're in a state of limbo almost. You don't know exactly what's going on. You can't get through to everybody. That's just making it harder and harder. We don't know what to expect and because of that we start to expect the worst.
My family has heard that my aunt and uncle have died. We're still waiting to hear back from some more aunts, some more uncles. We've also heard that my cousin's parents have died.
A lot of people in the family are trying to travel back to Haiti but it's very difficult not only to get in contact but to find out where we need to go in order to give the most help.
One of my cousins has a medical facility in Haiti and she has workers there and they were able to find out who was brought in and who they found while searching. They were able to contact her and thereby the entire family was contacted to learn about who perished.
The only details we were able to garner from my cousin who owns the medical facility was basically that there's still a state of shock. A lot of people are dying alone because you're crushed or you’re hurt in these circumstances and you don't have anyone around you. I think that's one of the worst things to think about - that someone is dying by themselves and they have no one to be with you. The fact that these people are alone in that gives us even more grief.
I am at school right now in Philadelphia and I am a part of the Haitian student association on campus and in that way I am personally able to reach out to other Haitian students and figure out how they're doing in terms of their families. I think it's a great way for all of us to come together and be there for each other because we're all going through this. We're all feeling what's going on.
The fact that Port-au-Prince and Haiti is basically destroyed leaves my parents - and myself in a way but moreso my parents because they grew up there - a part of them has almost crumbled. Especially since Haiti was trying to raise itself above just makes it so much harder. I hope that in two or three weeks people still remember and still try to help and not forget that these people still need help and that the country still needs help to get itself lifted again.
Jeffrey Tillus, 19
Born in Haiti, Jeffrey emigrated to the U.S. at age two with his immediate family. He and his parents are worried about friends and relatives who still live in his native country. He is currently a student at the University of Pennsylvania.
I have family in Haiti. I was born there.
When I was two I decided to emigrate here and so I still have family there. My father and mother live with me but I have close relatives as well as distant relatives in Haiti.
On the day of the earthquake, I received a phone call at about 6 PM from my mother. I was at work. At the time I didn't really understand the gravity of the situation. At around 10 o'clock that night I received another phone call from her and she asked me to just send an email to all the family members who are in Port-au-Prince and Lakai as well as other cousins of mine who, I've told them to do the same.
We've received word from family members who are in Lakai, however, relatives who are in Port-au-Prince we have not received word from them.
I go to a church that is a Haitian-speaking church and I have very close family friends who have relatives there - they are waiting to hear back from them.
The situation is very heart-wrenching. Haiti is a country that has a very poor infrastructure, it's impoverished and so to be able to communicate with anybody there is rather difficult. Towers are down and the only way to actually get into contact with people is through the internet and not everybody has access to the internet.
It's my native country and though I haven't been back it is very close to me. I have the same attachment there as I would here in the States if a catastrophe happened here.
And so its tough to watch the news coverage like this morning, it was difficult to wake up. I have the television programmed to a local sports channel because it's tough to see the coverage but I'm coping very well and I'm talking to family members and they're doing very well.
I'm glad that there are numerous efforts and numerous aid and relief support systems that are in place to help the people there and so I can only hope for the best and I am praying for everyone there.