At 9 a.m.: Day 5 of Public Impeachment Hearings

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    Some in Phila. Hispanic community feels strong ties to Haiti

    The Haiti earthquake has people struggling to cope with the enormity of the tragedy. Leaders from Hispanic communities across Philadelphia met at the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations last night just to share reactions and thoughts.

    About 40 people sat quietly in a circle. They took turns suggesting how to help. Maybe donate food? Or water? Or just money.

    Many people talked about how the images and stories pouring out of Haiti have affected them.

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    The Haiti earthquake has people struggling to cope with the enormity of the tragedy. Leaders from Hispanic communities across Philadelphia met at the Council of Spanish Speaking Organizations last night  just to share reactions and thoughts.

    About 40 people sat quietly in a circle. They took turns suggesting how to help. Maybe donate food?  Or water?  Or just money.

    Many people talked about how the images and stories pouring out of Haiti have affected them.

    Trisayria “Tracey” Oritz isn’t Haitian, but as someone raised in Puerto Rico she says she feels a connection to the people of this other small island.

    Oritz: I can not even sleep seeing what’s going on in tv.  Since the first day I saw the news.  And every time I try to eat in the morning, I can not eat just thinking this little bit of food that I’m eating.  I’m thinking somebody else from Haiti needs it. Reverend Remolien Cassise is waiting for news from his family and friends in Haiti

    Peru-native Anjanette Velaczo isn’t from Haiti either, but

    Velaczo: I know what is the earthquake.  Like 5 years ago we had the earthquake at 7.8 in Peru that was in Pisco.  When your people are suffering and you’re so far away, it’s more harder.

    Reverend Remolien Cassiss, a senior pastor at a church on North Broad Street, is Haitian, and he still has nieces, nephews and cousins who live there.

    Cassiss: I don’t have any news for now.  I don’t know what’s going on.

    Cassiss says one niece, her husband, and their two sons are okay but their house is gone.  He says he has many other relatives and friends he hasn’t heard from at all.

    The toll the last few days has had on Wilner Blanchard is obvious.

    Wilner Blanchard is waiting for news from his brothers and sisters in Haiti

    His eyes are red, but he doesn’t cry when talking about this brothers and sisters who live in the capital of Port au Prince.

    Blanchard: I’m hoping everybody’s alive.  But I don’t know because I have not heard from anybody.  Last night – I stayed awake the whole night trying to get in touch. … So we leave everything in God’s hands.

    The calamity in Haiti seems to have only strengthened Blanchard’s determination to return to Haiti to build a school.

    Blanchard: As long as I’m alive.  As long as God gives me breath, that is my goal.  Lord willing I want to build a school in Haiti.  I want to be part of the process.”

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