x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Haiti expats helpless in the UAE

Expats feel helpless as relatives suffer in earthquake in Haiti.

ABU DHABI // When Patrick Doliny woke up yesterday and learned that Haiti, his home country, had been struck by a deadly earthquake, he began frantically trying to contact friends and family in the small Caribbean nation. "I was devastated," he said. "It's a small country, the poorest in the western hemisphere. "We've had so much trouble over the years with hurricanes, not to mention some of the internal politics going on, and to be hit on this scale ..."

Mr Doliny, 45, who lives in Abu Dhabi with his wife and two daughters, said he tried to reach his aunts and cousins who live in Port-au-Prince, where the earthquake struck. "I immediately started to try and make contact with some of my folks, and really have not had any luck," he said. "I just want to know how they are, what proximity the major disaster was to their house. I'm worried for their safety."

Despite calling a hotline in Miami set up to assist the Haitian community there, Mr Doliny has been able to glean little information about the areas affected. Mr Doliny believes he and his family may be the only Haitians living in the UAE. If there are others, he said, he hopes they can get together to provide assistance. "I think we are probably the only ones, though," he said. "We've never met any other Haitians here. I've seen first-hand where groups have made a tremendous impact in providing relief.

"Unfortunately I'm 8,000 miles away now and feel somewhat helpless." Don Revis, 36, an American who runs kayak tours in Abu Dhabi, grew up in Haiti and his parents still live in Port-au-Prince. He spent hours trying to get hold of relatives, before his father managed to get in touch with him via satellite telephone. "I felt sick to my stomach when I heard," he said. "Haiti is not prepared for anything like this. I feel like I should be jumping on a plane and getting out there to help."

lmorris@thenational.ae