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  Howard University held a vigil for the victims of the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake that ravaged Haiti. Students from the Caribbean nation were embraced by the Howard community during a noon prayer on Jan. 13 in the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel.
Photographs by Justin D. Knight/University Communications.

Howard University Stands With Haiti

WASHINGTON (January 13, 2010) – Today, the reality of yesterday’s catastrophic earthquake in Haiti was setting in and those affected most prayed with their Howard family for their immediate families in Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas.

Dozens of Howard University students, faculty and staff flocked to the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel, a sacred place that has offered refuge and strength for generations. The noon vigil included prayers, reflections and soothing songs from the organist.

Haitian-born Roberte Exantus, 20, a junior at Howard University, just returned from spending the winter recess with family and friends in Haiti. She is unable to reach her parents who live in the heart of the capital city ravaged by the 7.0 quake.

“All we can do is pray,” said Exantus, president of the Haitian Student Association at Howard. “I have learned that two of my friends have died, but I have not heard from my family. I keep trying.”

During the vigil, Exantus implored Haitian and Howard students to remain engaged beyond the coming days because the recovery will be long and difficult.

Communication network failures are also a barrier for sophomore Gery-Ross Pierre who has been calling since 6 p.m. on Tuesday to reach his parents and 4-year-old brother.

“I am hoping for the best,” Pierre said.

In a letter to the Howard community, President Sidney A. Ribeau encouraged individual and collective efforts to assist in this time of great need.

“Our thoughts and sincere concerns are extended to the many victims and families of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti,” Ribeau said. “We especially embrace those members of the Howard University family who are from Haiti or who have relatives and friends there. No doubt, Haiti faces a tough recovery ahead, but we at Howard feel a kinship and stand ready to assist.”

Under the umbrella of the Office of the Dean of the Rankin Chapel, several campus organizations have begun brainstorming and coordinating efforts. They include: the Howard University Student Association, the Religious Fellowship Council, Chapel Assistants, Haitian Student Association and representatives from a number of schools and colleges. Preliminary plans include collecting supplies for the relief effort.

The U.S. Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) issued a press release and guidelines regarding donations.
Click here to visit the American Red Cross Web site to find out more or donate online.

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