Charlotte-Area Haitian Nonprofit Plans Relief Efforts For Earthquake Victims
Sabine Guerrier says it was a call from a friend in Haiti on Saturday morning that broke the news to her that there had been a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in her home country.
“I was in total shock. I just couldn't believe my ears,” Guerrier said.
But she said after taking some time to cry, she composed herself and started working on a plan to support relief efforts.
“Brace yourself. We're going back to Haiti. We're going to help once again,” Guerrier said she told herself. “We're going to survive. We're going to fight our way through. We're going to get out. It's hard and we keep getting hit over and over and over. But we are not going to stop trying to get up until we finally get up on our feet.”
Guerrier is the founder of Haitan Heritage and Friends of Haiti, a nonprofit that supports North Carolina’s Haitian community — a community of around 5,000 people, according to the Migration Policy Institute.
She says on Saturday she started getting calls from Haitians in North Carolina. The callers expressed their disbelief and both asked for help and offered their support.
Guerrier founded the nonprofit organization in 2009 after spending a couple of years in Haiti working as an administrator at a local hospital.
In 2010, following the catastrophic earthquake in her home country, Guerrier traveled back alongside around 35 volunteers from North Carolina. Since then, she says, the nonprofit has been planning trips to Haiti almost every year.
After more than a decade, Guerrier says she’s using her experience on these trips and the time she spent working at a local hospital in Haiti to best support relief efforts. She says she doesn’t want to make the mistake some large organizations make.
“A lot of big organizations donate what they believe Haiti needs and never ask what Haitians really need,” Guerrier said.
She says she’s in daily contact with government officials, local organization leaders and other people on the ground to find out what they need.
“Even though, yes, I'm a Haitian, I'm not living in Haiti, I'm living in the United States," she said. "I cannot say I know what they really need.”
Currently Haitian Heritage and Friends of Haiti is collecting donations, hygiene kits, buckets of nonperishable food and water and buckets with cleaning supplies. She says the organization purchased a school bus that will be filled with donations and shipped to Haiti.
Guerrier says she is also planning a two-week trip to Haiti in early September. She says the organization is looking for volunteers to go on the trip and help with collecting donations.
She says the organization will directly give the supplies to people on the ground to ensure the victims of the earthquake receive the supplies.
On Thursday, Haitian Heritage and Friends of Haiti will be holding a meeting to discuss relief efforts at Myers Park Baptist Church at 7 p.m.
To Volunteer With Relief Efforts:
Contact Haitian Heritage and Friends of Haiti by phone at 704890-9903 or email at email@example.com
For information about travel and donation kits, contact Thomas Hall by phone at 704- 574-0746 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.