UCF students remember Haiti earthquake 5 years later
Raised voices reverberated in the UCF breezeway as students gathered to remember the tragic earthquake that hit Haiti five years ago.
On Monday, the student-run Club Kreyol held a vigil under the John T. Washington Center to pay homage to those whose lives were changed forever after the devastation.
A diverse crowd huddled around as the event opened with the singing of Haiti's national anthem and opening remarks from the club's president Marckenely Fertil.
As the rain began to pound louder against the tin overhang, more students started to gather while Club Kreyol member Makisha Noel celebrated Haiti's history through a poem, which silenced the rain.
"Although, I came midway through the event, I really liked the poem," said junior interdisciplinary studies major Ruthanne Veillard.
She added that Club Kreyol's remembrance represented her uncle, who became handicapped because of the earthquake, and traumatized family members who fled Haiti after the devastation occurred.
A performance by the a cappella group Voicebox succeeded Noel's poem. The singers' fluid harmonies and passionate voices filled the breezeway, capturing the attention of more students. Emotion began to stir among the crowd.
"Tears came out of my eyes when they started singing,"said Fertil, a senior mechanical engineer major. "Every time we do this people come out and support. Most people didn't think it would happen because of the rain."
Afterward, a keynote address by Rachel Eloizin helped students to reflect on Haiti's progress. She discussed how Haiti had gained its independence in 1804 and how the strength of the country could not be forfeited by the earthquake.
Directly after the address, executive board members of Club Kreyol lit candles for everyone in the crowd.
A moment of silence was led by club member Anslin Dieujuste to commemorate those who had died or suffered when the earthquake hit Haiti on Jan. 12, 2010. During the moment of silence, only whispers of the rain's rushing winds could be heard. Dripping candles represented family members who were lost, as well as the support that was given to Haiti.
Jameson David, a senior physical therapy major and fundraising chair for Club Kreyol, said the members of club Kreyol collaborated for the event and they were all a part of making sure each person had a lit candle during the moment of silence.
The candles were blown out after homage was paid to Haiti, and Fertil ended the ceremony with emotion at the brim of his eyelids.
"[The remembrance] kind of made me look back and reflect. I should be grateful to be here. It makes me want to serve the community …" he said. "People were excited to come to support. It shows that we are united when there is a tragedy."
Shanae Hardy is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.