Volume 13, No. 2
Fall 2010
Effects Of Haiti Earthquake
Ripple Through U.S. Community
With support from IOCC, the Rev. Verel Montauban, pastor of the First Church of the Brethren (left), and staff of the Haitian Family Resource Center in Brooklyn, New York, provide assistance with immigration issues, grief counseling and other care for Haitians living in the U.S. (Photo credit: P. Papouras/IOCC Baltimore)
New York, NY (IOCC) — Stepping up out of the last subway stop into the heart of the Flatbush community of Brooklyn, NY, you emerge into a decidedly Caribbean atmosphere. The congestion and bustling crowds of Manhattan are suddenly replaced by people animatedly chatting in a mix of English, French and Creole. The prominence of Haitian culture within this multi-ethnic community is evident in its restaurants, shops and conversations.

The epicenter of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but its effects rippled through this community where family members of some of the 500,000 Haitians who were killed or injured watched in dismay. Nearly everyone in the Haitian community of Flatbush has been left to cope with the loss of family and friends in the disaster.

Doug, a resident of Flatbush, had been patiently attempting to bring his wife into the United States from Haiti since late last year, but his efforts became frantic after news of the catastrophe broke. "I was reaching out to everyone – local, state and federal government – and nobody was helping me. I almost began to despair when a friend of mine told me about the Haitian Family Resource Center, and then everything changed immediately."

Within 72 hours of the earthquake, the Haitian First Church of the Brethren had taken a leadership role in mobilizing and organizing churches in the area to open a grassroots family support center. In those early weeks, the Center provided news updates, emergency immigration legal assistance, food, missing family registry services, and pastoral care. The Brooklyn Sikh community also assisted in the effort by delivering food.

"Most who come to seek our help are trying to seek missing relatives or are looking for legal assistance to avoid returning to a country in ruins," explained Verel Montauban, pastor of the First Church of the Brethren.

Once emergency needs were met, the Center has since focused on case management, immigration legal clinics, grief counseling and spiritual care. Over 2,800 families have been assisted through the activities at the Center, including Doug. "These volunteers have helped me get my life back, and that is why now I volunteer here often as well."

"IOCC is grateful for the opportunity to partner with the New York Disaster Interfaith Services and the Haitian Family Resource Center," said Pascalis Papouras, IOCC's U.S. Program Coordinator, "We are pleased to support their continued efforts to provide a dedicated response to the Brooklyn Haitian community."

Learn more at iocc.org/Haiti

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In This Issue

Response Shifts To Health and Recovery In Disaster Areas

Message from the Executive Director

IOCC Project In Romania Aims To Expand And Strengthen Social Services

School Program Offers New Perspective For Lebanese Youth

Effects Of Haiti Earthquake Ripple Through U.S. Community

IOCC Project Extends Assistance To Iraqi Refugees In Syria

Loving Memories Inspire Gifts Of Love

IOCC Volunteer Highlight: Presvytera Flora Moraitis

One In Spirit

Parish Reps Make A Difference!

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