Haitian Americans hurt for their people from afar

Haitian Americans hurt for their people from afar

WHITSETT, N.C. — Triad siblings Djosen Vilner and her brother Hilder Vilner are thankful their family is safe after a deadly earthquake struck Haiti Saturday morning.

On August 14, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti, leaving brutal devastation, 1,941 people dead and more than 9,900 people injured.

The humanitarian organization UNICEF estimated Tuesday that 1.2 million Haitians have been affected, including 540,000 children, and that more than 84,000 houses have been damaged or destroyed. 

What You Need To Know

  • 1,941 people are dead and more than 9,900 people are injured
  • Djosen Vilner says Haiti cannot catch a break following countless tragedies 
  • The Vilner’s family is safe, but they say their people are struggling and need help

Djosen Vilner moved to the U.S. from Haiti in 2002 and her brother, Hilder Vilner, came in 1994. The two own King Queen Carribean Bar and Grill in Whitsett, where they serve food from their Haitian roots. When the two heard the news about what happened in Haiti, they were overhwhelmed with sadness.

Djosen Vilner says it was really hard seeing videos of the destruction and people being pulled from the rubble. She says the Haitian people are still recovering from the 2010 earthquake, several hurricanes, COVID-19 and the recent assassination of their former president Jovenel Moise. 

“I feel like Haiti can’t ever catch a break, just because, it feels like every time they take two steps forward and they had to take like 10 steps backwards so it’s hard seeing that,” Djosen Vilner said.

Luckily, the Vilners’ family lives in Cap-Haitian, which was not directly affected by the earthquake. But they did feel the shakes. Djosen Vilner says she is planning to do what she can to help, and that may be collecting donations to send to those suffering. 

“We all come together to help each other out so no matter what they’re going through, I know we can stand and work together,” Djosen Vilner said.

Adding to the devastation, Haiti is now dealing with torrential rain and heavy winds from Tropical Storm Grace. 

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