Says Haitian capital looks like the aftermath of a “war”
January 17, 2010 - Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Celebrity Jimmy Jean-Louis’s trek from Los Angeles into the earthquake ravaged city of Port-au-Prince ended with tears of relief late Saturday as he was reunited with his parents, who were still in shock after their home was reduced to rubble by the 7.0 earthquake.
For 24 hours following the Tuesday earthquake, Jimmy could not contact his parents in Port-au-Prince as the phone lines were dead. While reaching out to all of his contacts for information, Jimmy desperately tried to find a flight to Haiti – but did not have success with either.
He finally heard the good news on Wednesday night that they were alive, unhurt but in shock.
“This is good news but I have to get to them now,” Jimmy said after the call. “I cannot sit in Los Angeles while my parents are in shock and my countrymen are dying.”
Coordinating with the non-profit Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) and his own non-profit Hollywood Unites for Haiti (HUFH), Jimmy bought a ticket on a Friday night flight from Los Angeles to Newark, N.J. On Saturday morning, he changed planes and traveled from Newark to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, where PADF has its staging operations for the relief effort.
PADF’s relief logistics coordinator met Jimmy at the Santo Domingo airport to tell him the bad news: Getting to Haiti that day was impossible since PADF’s relief caravan left eight hours earlier. Sunday looked better for the eight-hour drive or one-hour flight to Port-au-Prince.
“I tried to convince him to stay the night in Santo Domingo,” says Cesareo Guillermo, PADF’s logistics coordinator. “We realized his determination to go to Port-au-Prince” and began to look for an alternate means of transportation.
Though contacts at the airport, Guillermo discovered that a helicopter transporting supplies to Haiti was scheduled to depart for Port-au-Prince and it had one empty seat. Some 90 minutes later Jimmy was in the air.
On Sunday, Jimmy was relieved to see his family but overcome by the sheer destruction of Port-au-Prince.
“It looked like a war had happened,” he said.
PADF, HUFH and the Organization of American States (OAS) are collaborating on an outreach and relief effort for Haiti. Jimmy is the president and founder of the one-year-old HUFH. Jimmy is the celebrity spokesperson for the relief effort and PADF’s Goodwill Ambassador for Haiti’s Children.
Haiti relief donations may be made in English in the United States at (877) 572-4484; online in English atwww.PanAmericanRelief.org, in Spanish at www.AyudaPanamericana.org and in Portuguese at www.AjudaPanamericana.org.
PADF is a non-profit organization established in 1962 to promote, facilitate, and implement social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the past year, it had more than 5.6 million beneficiaries in 18 countries.
PADF is one of the largest non-governmental organizations in Haiti. With nearly three decades of work on the ground, PADF now manages a large portfolio of activities ranging from community-driven development to protecting human rights.
Its headquarters is in Washington, D.C., and has field offices in Haiti, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and elsewhere.http://www.padf.org/
Hollywood Unites For Haiti is a non-profit charitable aid organization based in Los Angeles that puts 100 percent of its donations directly into the cause of helping Haitian citizens and raising global awareness of ways in which people can help. HUFH has a special campaign to raise funds for the infrastructural rebuilding efforts that will be necessary in the coming months and years.
Jimmy Jean-Louis maintains: “It's not enough to keep band-aiding this – my – poorest of counties every few years in the worst of times. We need to keep a long term focus on the plight of the Haitian people until our goals are accomplished.” www.hufh.org and www.HaitianHero.com