Nationwide coverage surrounding the devastation in Haiti has continued over the past week-and-a-half since the earthquake killed tens of thousands and left significantly more hurt and homeless.
As many throughout the United States watch with concern and inquire about ways they can help, Haiti native
“I have a great friend of mine by the name of Pat Lynch – he’s actually from Birmingham, Michigan – we went to school together,” said Cherilus. “He helped me put together a team of about 10-15 doctors and nurses and we partnered up with Haiti Outreach Mission, which is another group that’s based in Troy, Michigan.
“They also have 15-20 doctors and nurses and everybody will be flying to Haiti this Saturday. They have a hospital waiting on them and they’ll be bringing their own antibiotics and everything else they would need to help make a difference out there.”
This cause is near to Cherilus’ heart for obvious reasons. He spent the first 14 years of his life in Haiti before moving to the United States to attend high school and college.
Though his immediate family lives in the United States, his grandmother annually vacations in Haiti during the cold winter months of Massachusetts and left approximately one month prior to the earthquake.
“We’re still trying to find a way to get her back here,” said Cherilus. “It’s really hard for somebody of her age to take, so she’s struggling, really. But at least she made it through. When she goes to see a doctor, she is seeing guys with no legs, no arms. Young kids without their parents.”
The earthquake affected other members of Cherilus’ family as well. He talks about his cousin losing her husband and another cousin losing his wife and how difficult it is to find the right words to console them.
He continues to work with his foundation to bring aid to the people who did survive and, though he knows he can’t save the entire nation, he believes in the value of anyone he and his team can help survive.
“Even if we can save a life or two, that will definitely make a difference,” he said.
Cherilus says a lot of the aid that has been reaching Haiti has headed straight for the capital, but there are actually a lot of people who need help right outside it.
Because the primary hospitals collapsed, many injured people are in smaller hospitals and churches just outside Port-au-Prince.
“There are no doctors around, no nurses, nobody to help them out,” said Cherilus. “We’ve talked to some of the hospitals over there that need a lot of help and we found one right outside of Port-au-Prince that we will go and help out.
“They said they don’t have enough doctors, not enough nurses, not enough medicine. We’ll get there early Sunday and, by the time we get there, we can start making sure those people going through what they’re going through right now feel a lot better.”
In some cases, it’s as simple as someone needing a shot or some type of antibiotic. But there are no syringes, no medications and no supplies, so treatable infections or injuries are being left untended to.
The group Cherilus is sending down is made up of medical doctors and nurses who can help with those types of situations, but he is also sending down psychiatrists who can help with some of the post traumatic stress.
“You’re talking about young kids who lost their mother or their father,” said Cherilus. “We wanted to make sure we had a little bit of everything from a surgeon, to paramedics, psychologists – all kinds of people. Doctors and nurses – we didn’t turn anybody down.
“You say you have a medical degree of any sort, you say you want to help? Alright then, hop on board. You’ll go out there and we’ll find something for you to do.”
The medical staff heading down will stay at Cherilus’ uncle’s house. The house has six or seven bedrooms and was built just three or four months ago. It has running water and electricity through a generator.
“Part of our plan will be getting air mattresses for those people,” he said. “If they need help to translate, my father, uncle, cousin, we’ll be out there to help them.”
The group will be in Haiti for a week, but Cherilus plans to continue with aid until things are stable in his home country.
Prior to this disaster, Cherilus had established the Gosder Cherilus Foundation to offer help where it was needed.
“We don’t look to help just one group of people,” he said. “When you talk to some organizations, the main goal is to help just one cause. What we do – we have a great way to put it: we find a void and we fill it up right.”
His foundation began when he sent $2,000 to a school in Haiti to pay salary to the teachers so they would return to work. From there he went on to assist other causes, such as providing a wheelchair ramp for a boy in Massachusetts or Thanksgiving dinner to those who didn’t have one in Detroit.
Now the focus of his foundation has shifted entirely to Haiti.
“If a natural disaster is really what it takes for the whole world to realize what was going on in Haiti, shame on all of us,” he said. “But my whole goal is that Haiti will get out of this situation better than it was. I don’t know if that’s possible.
“I don’t even think I should say everything happens for a reason, because I don’t think all those people had to die to really get all the help that we need. Let’s just hope we can make a difference.”
“If you want your donation to go straight to Haiti, that’s where we’ll bring it to,” he said. “That’s where we’ll put it to work. If anybody wants to help, they’re more than welcome to visit our website. Any help is greatly appreciated.”