Lilieth Barton is not from Haiti, but being from Jamaica she feels as if what happened in the Caribbean country had happened to her own.
"I still cry, there's so much trauma," said Ms. Barton, holding back tears. "It's very emotional for me because we are just one big family; it doesn't matter what island you are from."
Ms. Barton and about 50 other members of Vision Ministries, a multicultural church in East Ridge with a large Haitian congregation, met Monday night for a candlelight service in honor and memory of those affected by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck the country a week ago.
"We are gathered here because the earthquake affected many of us in this church, but also in the community," Bishop Jean Valentin said. "(And) to bring attention to the need."
The service was offered in English and French and with one of the members praying for Haiti in Creole. The flame of a white candle glowed throughout the service, standing right next to the Haitian flag.
The small church is accepting donations to help with the relief effort and working with Soul4Souls, a charity that donates shoes to adults and children in need, to collect blankets and shoes to be delivered to Haitians on Friday, Mr. Valentin said.
LaFayette, Ga., resident Brenda Cooper, who founded Haiti Helpers with her husband, Michael, attended Monday's service to let people know that they will travel to Haiti in February to deliver medical equipment and supplies.
"The town we go to -- Jacmel -- is 80 percent destroyed, we learned that the hotel we usually stay in is completely destroyed and all the people who were in there died," added the Memorial Hospital respiratory therapist who works with children in Haiti. She plans to go back every three months.
While the news hasn't always been good about loved ones back in Haiti, Bherma Toussaint said it's good to get together and pray for their country.
After leaving Port-au-Prince 10 years ago she was planning to return in March, but now it may never be the same.
"That's probably what I regret the most," said the 22-year-old Ms. Toussaint, who wore a necklace and bracelet bearing the Haitian flag. "I've been wanting to go back and now when I go back it's not going to be the same place I left as a child, everything will be destroyed."
She has heard from an aunt who said she's running out of water and an uncle who doesn't want to leave without his furniture.
CAUGHT IN HAITI
* Bradley residents Ray Conn, his wife Joan and son Clint, arrived in Port-au-Prince a couple of days before the earthquake struck to work with the Jean Cadet Restavek, an organization that works to bring an end to child servitude in Haiti.
* The family reported they were fine and decided to stay to continue helping in the relief effort. They are currently trying to help find, feed and care for the approximately 500 children their foundation supports, according to Lee University President Paul Conn, who is Ray Conn's brother.
"It's just a sad situation," she said.
"You feel helpless," said Ancy Preval, also from Port-au-Prince, sitting next to her during the service.
The most frustrating part, he said, "is being so far away and not being able to do anything."
This is a time to pray for those who got hurt and for the country to change, Mr. Valentin said.
"We are hoping this earthquake is a wake up call for the people in Haiti but also hope that the world helps," he said. "If it doesn't this will be a patch-up solution."
Perla Trevizo joined the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 2007 and covers immigration/diversity issues and higher education. She holds a master’s degree in newswire journalism from Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas. In 2011 she participated in the Bringing Home the World international reporting fellowship program sponsored by the International Center for Journalists, producing a series on Guatemalan immigrants for which she ...