Two Years Later, Haiti Earthquake Survivor Struggles In Queens
Thursday marked the second anniversary of when Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and disrupted the lives of millions more. Thousands were evacuated to the United States, but it has not been easy for many of them to rebuild their lives. Borough reporter Ruschell Boone spoke with a survivor who now lives in Queens.
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Looking at pictures he took after the 2009 Haiti earthquake, Andre Jolicoeur says the disaster ripped his life, home and family apart.
"I had a satisfying career in Haiti, but all that came to nothing after the earthquake because I did not have a house to live and my family was dispersed," said Jolicoeur.
Jolicoeur was a medical physician and administrator working with people afflicted with HIV and AIDS. He and his daughter, who is a U.S. citizen, were relocated to New York after the earthquake, which he recalls very vividly.
"I felt like I was inside a blender turning," said Jolicoeur.
When the quake hit, Jolicoeur's wife was visiting Haiti during a break from her studies in Canada. She is back there now and the family has not been able to reunite since.
"At first it was me and my daughter here and then it was my daughter and my wife living in Canada and me living here," said Jolicoeur.
While Jolicoeur is happy to be living in the United States, life has not been easy for him over the last two years. He has lived in three different places and he is still trying to find work.
He studied internal medicine in Germany, holds a master's degree from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins and speaks several languages. He has a work permit but he hasn't been able to find a job, let alone an interview for one.
"It was one of the worst times for a newcomer in the U.S. because of the general economic situation," said Jolicoeur.
Even though his resources are running out, he still has hope.
"I am a very resilient person. I saw the earthquake as my chance at a second life, and it is a beautiful opportunity for someone to have a second life where a lot of others didn't have that opportunity," said Jolicoeur.