A sad day at HELP

Dear Friends,

Samson was recovering some books at the old HELP center yesterday afternoon when a neighbor approached him with a letter that someone had asked him to deliver to HELP. The letter announced the death of Marc-Erline Dezulma, a second-year HELP accounting student from Gros Morne. Samson gave the the letter to Garry, who spoke with Marc-Erline’s family and confirmed her death: the Port-au-Prince apartment building where she lived collapsed in the quake, leaving no survivors.

Garry later discovered that students who had been filling out the contact spreadsheet in the days following the quake erroneously marked Marc-Erline as “contacted” rather than “attempted contact”. We reviewed the entire list again today and found that another student, Evenson Jean, second-year in computer science, also perished when his classroom building crumbled, taking fifteen students with it.

Marc-Erline graduated at the top of her class in 2008 at Jean XXIII high school in Gros Morne. Her older brother Erland had been the top graduate two years before her, and the Catholic brothers at the school had sponsored him to study engineering in Port-au-Prince. Once admitted to HELP, Marc-Erline followed Erland to the city, where they were joined by a younger sister, who also perished in the apartment. Erland had the difficult task of returning to Gros Morne with the tragic news.

Marc-Erline Dezulma

Marc-Erline was one of the 18 students sponsored by our friends at the Haitian Timoun Foundation (HTF). HTF President, Pastor Rick Barger, writes, “Those of you who remember meeting this gracious and talented young lady will know that we all, HELP, HTF, and Haiti, have suffered a big loss. It is hard to put into words what it means for someone with so much promise and who had worked so hard, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, to be crushed in this disaster. Please pray for Marc-Erline’s family, the HELP community, and Haiti.”

Evenson Jean was the first in his family to graduate from high school. Also first in his class at his Port-au-Prince high school, he was one of a group of students previously sponsored by the FOKAL Foundation that transferred to HELP this year.

Evenson Jean

His advisor, Smryne Saintil, said he wasted no time adapting to HELP, offering his considerable computer skills whenever needed. Evenson usually attended classes in the morning session, but as first semester exams were approaching, he began to attend review classes in both the morning and afternoon to better prepare for finals. It is doubly tragic that Evenson paid the ultimate price for his determination to succeed.

The letter left for us at HELP in the name of the Dezulma family ends thus:

“We thank you for this noble service that you have offered our family, which, sadly, through this natural catastrophe, ended before its proper conclusion.”

We will be establishing memorial scholarship funds for Evenson and Marc-Erline. Please let me know if you would like to contribute.