Hearing Haiti’s story
This is the final part of a series of a Corydon man’s first-hand account of life in Haiti since a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake Jan. 12.
Greg Milby, a drive-time personality on 98.3-FM WQXE in Elizabethtown, Ky., encountered a wide range of personalities when he traveled to Haiti with the 3rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command unit from Fort Knox. He was embedded in Haiti from Feb. 16 through 28.
From the Haitian wearing a Boston Celtics jersey ‘ sporting the familiar No. 33 of French Lick native and NBA legend Larry Bird ‘ who ran a portable gambling table to several people who misunderstood Milby and thought he could provide them with work, each day provided a laundry list of unique people the Corydon man came across.
There was also the woman praying over her husband in the adult wing of the University of Miami Field Hospital. Through an interpreter, Milby was told the woman was asking God for forgiveness and for her husband to get better so he could work to provide for his family. Milby said he continues to pray for the couple.
But two native Haitians ‘ one young, one older ‘ had more of an effect on Milby than anyone.
The first was a 9-year-old boy named Pablo Picasso.
Picasso was injured during the earthquake. He received major damage to his lower left leg, which needed a skin graph of his upper leg to repair it, when rubble fell on him.
‘He still had a cast on his leg. I hugged him and within five minutes I’m carrying him on my back in the hospital,’ Milby said. ‘He loves basketball, so I was showing him some U of L photos on my phone and he really liked that.
‘He had this really big smile, and I was just drawn to him since he’s about the same age as my oldest son. It kind of reminded me of home.’
The second native Haitian who had an effect on Milby was his interpreter and now close friend, Staff Sgt. Theirry Alexandre.
Alexandre, who speaks the native language of Haitian Creole, was invaluable for Milby’s visit.
‘When foreign people were on the street with a camera, the Haitians would kind of avoid you because they felt like you were exploiting them. But when Alexandre walked in and spoke their language, which is a unique language anyway, it knocked them out. They literally opened up like we were best friends, would tell you anything and everything about a situation.
‘One girl we interviewed said she was fasting for a better Haiti. One guy we interviewed told us that he appreciated the help that was being sent, and had one of the best lines: ‘We are different, different colors, but we are the same people. The same people from God.’ ‘
And contrary to the comments made by Pat Robertson ‘ that the earthquake was a result of a pact with the devil ‘ just days after the tragedy, Milby said he saw no signs of voodoo or devil-worshipping anywhere.
‘I did a video for the Army, Project Haiti, and we did a lot of the shooting in Haiti on a Sunday. A lot of their churches were torn down, but they were still worshipping God. We even had a hard time getting through parts of the city because of the overflow of people going to church,’ Milby said. ‘Alexandre said that a funeral, a wedding and church are the only three things Haitians dress up for. We saw a lot of Roman Catholics, some Baptists. A large number of the interviews we did in the street and hospital God was mentioned in the interview.’
Since returning home, Milby and WQXE have been honored numerous times.
They received a proclamation from Kentucky House of Representatives and from Hardin County government, the Elizabethtown City Council and others.
‘I had a lady bring me a pecan pie thanking me for what I did and opening their eyes to what media wasn’t talking about. This wasn’t just us getting out and saying what we were saying and hearing. We wanted to tell the story about what people were dealing with,’ Milby said. ‘Haitians aren’t begging for our help, but they are grateful for our help. They just want an opportunity for a fair shake in life, and their government really isn’t giving it to them.’