Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti, Part 6: CONTACT!

(Continued from Part 5...)

Finally! Nine days after the earthquake, we've had confirmation from somebody who talked with Jeanne Pocius directly. Not that other reports weren't valuable but this seems like the confirmation of many prayers and much hope from her family and friends all over the country - in fact, judging from the number of hits Thoughts on a Train's received from Europe, googling "Jeanne+Pocius+Haiti", I would say "and the world."

Steven Huang, a university professor in Ohio who's taught at Ste. Trinite in Port-au-Prince and is one of the administrators for Facebook's “Haiti Music Schools Earthquake Info Sharing” page, found that Jeanne was now staying in a suburban area of Port-au-Prince which, they assumed, meant she was staying with someone there they knew had a working phone number – so he arranged to call her this evening.

This is what Steve posted on Facebook shortly after 9pm tonight:

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Just got off the phone with Jeanne. She is indeed okay, with nothing more serious than soft tissue damage. She seemed eager to share her experiences and info with me.

Jeanne confirms many of the survivors, including Nadine and Michee from the National Palace band, and Luca (tuba). The guest house at Ste. Trinite seems to have survived the earthquakes. She reports that in Leogane, the guest house is down, but the hospital, school, and bandshell are up (I know this is contradicted from other reports). She also says that she was able to save a cello, a damaged French horn, and some trumpets. She says that Carlot's girl friend is okay as well.

I asked her when she was thinking of coming back--she says she honestly doesn't know. She said that she believed it is her ministry to stay now and help the survivors. (I did try to convince her to come back for a while, but did not push it--you can't push Jeanne around!)

Finally, she said that she was able to borrow a Californian doctor's phone to make a single phone call to her pastor, who is supposed to get messages out to her family that she is indeed fine.

I am overjoyed to hear her voice, Boston accent and all.

Jeanne, please do God's work and hurry back to us soon!

[Added later] She was in Salle Ste. Cecile [the school's auditorium and the only real concert hall in the country] when the earthquake occurred. I think this is what she said (the connection was not great): The cement ceiling came down, crushing the piano where she was at only moments ago. At the area in front of the stage, a "volcano" pushed up through the ground. She made special note that Skander Desrosiers (horn) was an absolute hero – not only lifting columns of cement to save her and others, but repeatedly returning to the hall to rescue others.
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To say I am relieved and delighted is an understatement!

In the past week, I've seen many names mentioned in Facebook posts, reports from PaP about survivors - with survivors posting news of other survivors for those of us “state-side” wondering and worrying.

I want to say a special word of thanks to Skander who I'm sure probably didn't think at all about becoming a hero, absolute or otherwise, that he was doing what he had to do because these were his friends and they needed his help. One thing that is obvious from so many of these posts and from so many of the pre-earthquake pictures that have been posted here is the joy they all share in celebrating this life and the love they share for each other.

A school is more than just a building. A building can be replaced. The most important part of that school has survived so the work that has gone on there for generations past may continue long into the future.

Here is a link to a website that is setting the groundwork for a fund we can contribute to to help rebuild that physical building of Ste. Trinite. Please keep it in mind for the very near future. Right now, food and medicine are the most important things – please contribute as you can, now. But later, please consider a contribution to the school or donating musical instruments as they begin the long, hard process of rebuilding.

Thank you.

(continued: Concert in Haiti, Feb 5th, 2010.)

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