Haitian crisis hits home


By Heather Barry, Serena Ciccarello and Jamie Breedlove
Revised by Kiya Bodendorf 1/24/2017
Imagine being an ocean away from all of the people you know and love, and not knowing whether they were alive and well; imagine fearing that every time your cell phone rang it was only going to be bad news.
Fitchburg State College student Beatrice Varice suffered this uncertainty when, on Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. EST, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale struck her home country of Haiti.
“I thought it was a joke, because Haiti doesn’t have earthquakes,” Varice said. “But then I put on the news and I was freaking out.”
The earthquake lasted approximately 35 to 40 seconds. In less than one minute, an estimated 3 million people’s lives were affected, some destroyed, and everything they knew was ripped out from under them.
As for Varice, she lost a piece of who she was. “My whole maternal side of the family was there, most of my dad’s people, my friends that I grew up with basically my whole life,” she said.
Varice had no communication with her family until that Friday, Jan. 15, when she was able to contact her godfather and receive some news. “Everyone was alive, but my aunt’s leg was amputated and my grandmother has a broken leg,” said Varice.
According to the UK Telegraph, the death toll in Haiti was estimated at around 200,000. At press time, there were approximately 4,000 Americans still missing in Haiti. This disaster has affected people around the world, including those here on our campus.
Although her family is alive and recovering, Varice said they continue to feel the effects of this disaster. “My whole family is now living in the streets,” she said. “It is going to take many years for us to rebuild everything from scratch.” She continued, “I was planning on going back home to celebrate my graduation with the people I love, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The Fitchburg State community has been pulling together to help the cleanup efforts in Haiti, filling donation boxes that are located in various offices all over campus. Checks can be made out to Fitchburg State College Foundation.