Leslie Johnson told a crowd of over 300 people, “The facts are out, the facts are true.”
He spoke at the candlelight vigil for Haiti earthquake victims in front of Hendricks Chapel Thursday night. “Over 10,000 Haitians were buried in one communal grave.”
“The facts are true. It could have been us.”
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck Haiti near its capital Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, claiming over 200,000 lives and leaving thousands more homeless or without family.
Johnson, a pastor at Tucker Missionary Baptist Church in Syracuse, was just one of the speakers at the vigil. Students, professors and members of the Syracuse community braved freezing temperatures to listen to tearful testimonies, poetry readings and songs.
“It overwhelmed me,” said Cathiana Vital, president of the Haitian-American Student Association (HASA). “I was crying because standing here on these stairs and looking up to see so many bodies in this negative weather, it means so much to me.”
Vital lost two cousins to the earthquake, but said she does not have time to be affected by her own losses. “There are entire families that are wiped out. Friends, church members, people you see all the time — it’s just that every day you hear that someone else is lost.”
Patrick Williams, a senior communications major at LeMoyne College, read his moving poem called “Don’t Settle,” which included a special verse just for this event.
“This devastation was a wake-up call,” Williams said. “We are just so privileged here.”
Vital, a senior marketing and accounting major, said, “The community and campus here at Syracuse are very supportive. Although it did not directly affect them, they are doing something and it shows that there are some good-hearted people.”
At the end of the vigil, HASA, Phi Beta Sigma fraternity and Voice of Hope collected monetary donations, clothing and canned goods. Vital said the donations from the vigil will travel directly to Haiti through a moving company.
Vital has another idea for students who want to help. “These donations are wonderful, but at the same time, there are Haitian people who are there that need your prayers, because a lot of us are just finding it hard to find peace in our hearts.”
The Syracuse Athletics Department will be collecting monetary donations for the people of Haiti at the next two men’s basketball games on Saturday, Jan. 23 and Monday, Jan. 25.
P.I.E. (Play It by Ear) is a non-profit advocacy organization founded by SU student Caitlin Moriarty in 2009. The organization is hosting a benefit concert at Funk 'N Waffles on Friday, Jan. 29 from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. All donations will be directed towards Haiti relief efforts.
The South Campus Organization for Programming Excellence (SCOPE) is holding a blood drive Friday, Jan. 22 in 201 Goldstein Student Center from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. A portion of the blood donated will go to Haiti. Call (315) 443-3893 to schedule an appointment.
The American Red Cross is accepting donations for Haiti relief. Donations to the International Response Fund can be made by phone at 1-800-REDCROSS or online.
To make a $5 donation to the Haitian-born musician Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund, text YELE to 501501. It will be charged to cell phone users' monthly bill.
The Huffington Post's Causecast Store allows visitors to purchase products for organizations that will be used to directly help victims of the Haiti earthquake. Donators can purchase products ranging from emergency hygiene kits to high-energy protein biscuits. Prices range from under $25 to over $50.