The Haitian Society hosted a dinner in Marillac Terrace Feb. 9 to remember those killed in the earthquake that devastated Haiti last year.
Robert Dubois, president of the Haitian Society, stressed that the Haiti Dinner this year was about the importance of recognizing the plight the Haitian people still face.
“A year is not that long ago, there are still people over there that need help,” he said. “Americans are quick to come together amid tragedy, but are soon to go back to the dwellings of their everyday lives when the media are no longer covering the tragedy the Haitian Society wants to break this bad habit among all Americans. There is no need to be individualistic.”
The Dinner was first held last year in the wake of the earthquake where roughly 400 students, administration, faculty and staff gathered.
After the earthquake hit, Dubois lost a family friend and his grandmother’s house was destroyed. He said he hopes the dinner will become an annual event to remember those affected by the devastation.
“Last year more people attended the dinner but the fact that 200 people are attending the dinner tonight shows that people are still aware of the troubles facing Haiti,” Dubois said. “Haiti won’t be rebuilt in one year, it is going to take time, and we just don’t want people to forget.”
The Haitian Society has been successful by partnering with a St. John’s organization called Zafen. The society was able to donate $1,000 to Haiti as well as send clothes from the proceeds raised from last year dinner. They also won the best organization award from Haraya, the Pan-African Students Coalition on the Queens Campus.
Guess speaker Marlie Hall was invited to speak to emphasize Dubois’and the society’s message of continuing the awareness of Haiti’s need for help.
“As Haitian-Americans, there is quite a bit we can do,” Hall said.
Hall, who is a Haitian-American as well as a St. John’s graduate, graduated in 1996 with a degree in journalism and went on to receive her M.B.A. from Dowling College in Oakdale, New York. She has worked for NBC Universal, the Food Network and NYC TV.
Hall covered the catastrophe in Haiti and saw the outcome of the disaster firsthand.
“I came to this dinner tonight as a Haitian-American, but also as a reporter,” She said. “I wanted to give an uncensored view of what really happened down there, not just the few censored snippets the American media provide the people. I want to inspire all the people here tonight to act.”
St. John’s Junior Shamara Kenney was impressed and inspired by the dinner.
“The event was very informative. It provided a great atmosphere,” Kenney said.
“I think it is great that St. John’s is gearing something towards minorities. I’ve been definitely swayed to get more involved and this event shows that how much hard work truly does pay off.”