MANATEE — Not knowing if his two sisters or cousin were alive, the 13-year-old boy wept for weeks following the January disaster.
Harllee Middle School student Stanley Decimus wondered if they survived the earthquake that rocked Haiti, killing tens of thousands and leaving children orphaned.
Unbeknownst to him, a happy ending awaited Stanley — a Bradenton boy who never gave up hope.
For the first time since the disaster, Stanley stepped onto his native soil two weeks ago to embrace his sisters and cousin he thought dead for so long.
“They are doing OK down there, but they say everything is still destroyed, needs rebuilt,” Stanley’s 17-year-old brother, Peteeson Olivera, said Tuesday while standing inside the family’s Bradenton home on 60th Avenue Drive East. “My mother continues to send my sisters Goodwill clothing and food, canned goods — anything that won’t expire.”
Stanley, who made the trip with his father Elius Decimus, will return from Haiti before school starts next month and will reunite with other classmates like Wenshiny Senat, also affected by the earthquake.
Wenshiny 13, lost his aunt and at least two cousins when their home was cracked in half during the disaster. His father Peirre Senat plans to return to the country next week to pay his portion of the family’s funeral expenses.
As his family continues to heal, Wenshiny said he wished more was being done for the people in his native land.
“They still need us,” he said.
The boy’s thoughts echo some of his Haitian peers in the Manatee County School District. Of the district’s approximately 42,000 students this past school year, there were about 660 pupils of Haitian descent in the district, with 411 being natives of Haiti.
“What I’m hearing from the students is that they feel like not enough donations are being sent,” said Romy Viard, the Haitian home school liaison for the district.
“I spoke to a student last week who told me some of the families have no tents,” Viard said Tuesday. “They are sleeping in the street. They cover themselves with anything they can find.”
She recently started a non-profit organization called Links of Charity. She’s collecting medical supplies, food and tents and plans to return to her native land with them on July 23.
Viard also plans to put a container in one of the district’s schools to continue to collect tents and canned goods throughout the rest of the summer.
For now, other local Haitian natives like Jecica Altidor, 12, will continue to brainstorm ways to do something for the broken country.
One week after the quake, she learned her family lost their homes but got away with their lives.
“My grandmas, aunties, uncle and cousins, they will stay and try and rebuild. But while that happens, I’d like to see my friends get together and do something. They all still need help.”