By Anna Gustafson
Jamaica resident Victoria Milord remembers everything shaking, the bricks falling and being pulled out of her house in Haiti by her grandmother.
As the 10-year-old Queens girl stood on the street watching countless people “screaming and crying” in the aftermath of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that may have killed at least 150,000 people in Haiti, Milord said all she could think about was how incredible it was to have had her grandmother in her life.
“I started thanking God for my grandma,” Milord said Friday in the office of U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica), who helped to expedite the girl’s trip home to New York.
After spending several nights on the street with her grandmother, who remains in Haiti, Milord eventually was able to stay at the U.S. embassy and flew to John F. Kennedy International Airport last Thursday, her 10th birthday.
“I am so happy, so happy we were able to celebrate her birthday at home,” said Victoria’s mother, Rosemay Milord, 40, who grew up in Haiti and had sent her daughter to boarding school in Port-au-Prince, the capital, a couple years ago. She now plans to enroll her child in one of the city’s public schools.
Meeks, who said he was thrilled to see Victoria reunited with her family in the United States, held a news conference Friday in his Jamaica office to announce several initiatives to help those in Haiti and Haitians in this country.
The congressman, the Rev. Dr. Edward Davis of the Church of St. Albans, the Rev. Darryl James of Grace Episcopal Church in Jamaica, the Rev. Curtis George Norton of the Merrick Park Baptist Church in Jamaica and Kathryn Pichardo-Erskin of state Sen. Malcolm Smith’s (D-St. Albans) office announced a Jan. 30 benefit concert at York College that will raise money for the Haiti relief fund.
The concert will be at York’s Performing Arts Center from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will include performances by area entertainers.
Norton said any entertainers interested in performing at the concert should contact Meeks’ office at 718-725-6000.
Individuals who plan to attend the concert are being asked to give monetary donations.
“We want to raise a whole lot of money for Haiti,” said Davis, who most recently was in Haiti last summer as part of a mission trip.
CUNY Law School too has launched efforts to raise money for Haiti, and the school’s Ambulance Chasers are sponsoring a 1.5 mile “Relay for Haiti Relief” charity run today, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m. Runners will meet at the law schools’ back entrance and run on the Queens College track. For more information, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The law school’s Black Law Students Association is holding a fund-raising campaign and a food and clothing drive. Individuals may donate money or items at tables outside the cafeteria.
LaGuardia Community College conducted a three-day fund-raising drive beginning Jan. 19.
Meeks said he will be helping Haitians in the United States to apply for temporary protected status, which allows individuals to live and work in the country for 18 months. The congressman is working with federal officials now to attempt to waive the $350 fee it usually costs to apply for temporary protected status, leaving Haitians to cover $50 for the application.
Beginning Feb. 4, individuals may receive free assistance in filling out the status applications every Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Meeks’ office.
There will also be an application workshop at York College from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 20 to help Haitians fill out the status forms.
Meeks this week will introduce legislation that will call for Haiti’s debt to be canceled and for various aid and government groups to coordinate efforts to rebuild the Caribbean nation.
“This is a people full of hope that, no question in my mind, will endure,” Meeks said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.