Two days ago, Martin Elie received the worst kind of news that anyone could receive. His home country, where his parents and friends still live, had been devastated by an earthquake. Within ten minutes he was on the phone, and very quickly was able to contact his mother, who he learned was okay. She told him that his father, who was at work at the pharmacy they both own, was okay too. After that initial contact, however, Elie couldn’t reach his parents again for two days, when he waited in anxiety trying with no avail to reach them by phone. Finally, today he was able to make contact with them again, through text message.
Elie was born and raised in Haiti, and came to the United States in 1999 for school. He graduated from St. John’s University in New York in 2005 with a degree in Pharmacy, and soon after moved to Minnesota. He now works at St. John’s Hospital in Maplewood, but he also works and volunteers for No Time For Poverty, a St. Paul- based foundation whose Project Haiti has focused on building and supporting a pediatric clinic in Port Salut, Haiti, which is located on the Southwestern tip of the country. Elie travelled to Haiti in September of last year helping to build and run the clinic.
Elie has learned that his parents’ pharmacy has been partially destroyed. They have no electricity, and the food is running out. The grocery store has fallen, and there is no gasoline for cars. Luckily, most of Elie’s friends have been accounted for, but there are still others that he has not heard from.
As for the area where the clinic is located in Port Salut, Elie has learned that it has not been affected. Elie said that his organization is standing by, assessing the situation. “We’re making a plan right now to see what sites we can set up in Port-au-Prince,” he said. Elie said that he hopes to travel to Haiti within the next couple weeks, depending on what travel arrangements can be made, and once a plan is in place.
“This is a tremendous tragedy,” Elie said. “After surviving four hurricanes last year, this came when we were already at the bottom, and now we have hit a new bottom.” Still, Elie has not given up. “The Hatian population is very resilient, and I am hopeful,” he said.