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‘They Need Pretty Much Everything Right Now’: Haitians In Atlanta Devastated By Earthquake’s Impact on Family Share What They’re Doing to Help and How Others Can Too

The Haitian community in Atlanta are desperately seeking donations and doing what they can to help family and friends suffering in Haiti following a deadly earthquake killing at least 2,000 people.

“They need pretty much everything,” said Gerssandre Henry, who lives in Atlanta but has family in Haiti. 

Gerssandre Henry is doing what she can to remain calm while her loved ones in Haiti cope with the 7.2 magnitude earthquake aftermath. Henry is originally from Port-au-Prince and has lived in Atlanta for the last 12 years. She has more than 30 family members in Les Cayes, Haiti, about 78 miles west of Port-Au-Prince. She last visited the island in 2020 and said at the time, people were still recovering from the 2010 earthquake. 

The Haitian Civil Protection Agency reports at least 2,000 fatalities and 9,900 injuries related to the quake. Tropical Storm Grace dumped rain on the island as it passed over the region. Henry says some of her family members had to sit in the rain because they had no adequate shelter.

“They’re stressed, they have nowhere to go, they don’t know what’s coming down the street. For some of them, the house is still there, but they are afraid to get inside the house to sleep and with the hurricane it’s stressful for them,” said Henry.

Nathalie Oshunlalu also lives in Atlanta but originally from Port-au-Prince. She also has loved ones deeply impacted by the earthquake. Oshunlalu says Haiti has already experienced plenty of hardship leading up to the recent earthquake.

“It’s not only COVID that’s affecting Haiti right now, there’s still hunger, there’s still poverty, and just a month ago we just experienced something the world has not experienced in a long time with the murder of a sitting president,” said Oshunlalu referring to former President Jovenel Moise of Haiti.

The onslaught of worrisome news coming out of Haiti have touched more than just the local Haitian community. Desperate to help, Sando Karneh, founder of H.E.A.L. Inc (Help Educate and Assist Lives) is a close friend and neighbor with Henry and wants to use his resources to assist relief efforts.

Karneh’s nonprofit usually sends supplies including clothes, shoes and toiletries to orphanages in his native home of Liberia. After seeing the devastation in Haiti, he began gathering donations of much needed supplies to send to Haiti.

“Prior to the earthquake we were actually talking about ways my organization can doing things in Haiti,” said Karneh. 

Karneh has collected two barrels full of clothes and shoes to send to Haiti. He put out a plea on the H.E.A.L. Inc Facebook page asking for more donations to send. 

Karneh was always passionate about helping those less fortunate largely because it reminds him of his own upbringing as a child.

“I grew up poor, I grew up in a Zinc Shack, without running water, without toilets. I used to go into the bushes to use the restrooms. I know how it is to go to school and putting cardboard in your shoes because the bottom of your shoes is gone,” said Karneh.

Karney also believes the global Black community should do what it can to help other Black people in need.

“Blacks all over the world are interconnected, no matter what, all Blacks are from Africa, and we have to do our part regardless of where we are from, to be the bridge in that gap so where a brother is falling, we have to be that hand to lift,” said Karneh.

Anyone wishing to donate clothes, shoes and toiletries to Karneh’s H.E.A.L. Inc or Henry’s organization, Union Diaspora is asked to call their listed numbers.

Union Diaspora (678) 835-8063 
H.E.A.L. Inc. (770) 990-3519

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