Friday, February 12, 2010

A Great Need Remains in Haiti

By Maria Alvarez

I write first as a proud Tennessean, and second as a member of the Haitian community. I was born in Haiti and moved to Nashville at the age of 16. I've lived here for more than 15 years – long enough to see the Haitian community in Nashville grow from three families to more than 2,000 people. I remember when the first group of Haitians came to Nashville because of unrest in their homeland. And I'm privileged to have seen that generation of Haitian Americans -- and the next -- become productive Tennesseans.

As a community, we have watched Haiti go through many ups downs. The country was only recently beginning to recover from a decade of economic, environmental and political turmoil. But the recent earthquake changed everything. It was completely unprecedented. All members of the Haitian community in Tennessee suffer alongside Haiti’s survivors.

The quake, which has jolted the world, has not only damaged buildings, but stolen the lives of tens of thousands of Haitians. The days since have been some of the most difficult of my life – not knowing whether my family and friends are alive.

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