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Haitians raise funds in Hollis for homeland

More than 100 Christian Haitians congregated at IS 192 in Hollis Sunday for an evening of prayer, song and mourning for those who lost their lives in the earthquake that ravaged the island nation Jan 12.

Coming from Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island to show their unity and raise funds for the relief effort, attendees heard first-hand the stories of six men and women who were in Haiti that fateful day.

Hans Pierre, of St. Albans, lost his wife to the disaster.

“I have a pain in my heart. Jesus saved me and God helped me out,” he told the audience. “The house fell on me and nothing happened to me. To finish, I have a piece of advice. If you’re not with Jesus Christ, go make peace with him, because life is too short.”

The evening was an emotional affair, kicked off with live performances of the Haitian and American national anthems and peppered with passionate speeches and sermons translated from Creole into English.

But it was not always intended to be a somber event, as the churches had planned to meet together at the school at 19-89 204th St. for months since it was the ninth anniversary of Jamaica’s Gospel Assembly-Queens.

“We all just wanted to reunite ourselves together, but what happened Jan. 12 makes us gather here in another setting,” Pastor Marc Pierre of Gospel Assembly-Queens said. “We came here to suffer with our people, the Haitian people. We understand they are suffering.”

Eliza Jourdain, a congregant of her husband Pastor Fritz Jourdain’s Emmanuel Church in Amityville, L.I., brought along her daughters and niece to the event because she said she wanted to raise awareness and do as much as she can to assist the relief effort.

“At our church we had a couple of people who were survivors and nurses who went down there and came back and told us how difficult the conditions are down there,” she said. “The whole family’s here. We’re here to support the people of Haiti and to see what we can do to help.”

The event also attracted a number of area elected officials and their surrogates, who spoke in solidarity with those gathered and the people affected by the earthquake.

Eddy Dupiton, former president of the Haitian Senate, spoke inspirationally about the road ahead to a rebuilt Haiti and about the hope, unity and perseverance that journey requires, helping listeners to look for the positive even amid great tragedy.

“We are at an instant of truth. Let’s find behind human suffering hope, the desire to live and to smile in our hearts of hope,” he said. “We are called to show our full size of love and then to create from nothing. It is time more than ever to be Haitian and to prove we can create in peace what has been taken from us by war.”

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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