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Trying to help

By Staff | Feb 4, 2010

Thony Thermidor feels that in order for his homeland of Haiti to rebuild, it will take more than just bricks and mortar and wood.
Thermidor thinks the country will have to change its approach to life, and change entire generations of ideology that have plagued progression, positivity and the development of Haiti’s youths.
“The earthquake isn’t the problem,” he said. “Life is the problem, mentality is the problem … the mentality of Haitians need to be rebuilt, not the country.”
Thermidor, an American citizen and Kiwanian, was in Port Au Prince when the earthquake struck.
He was getting ready to host a Kiwanis Club meeting in the capital city when his world was literally turned upside down, as the country crumbled around him.
“An entire nation was destroyed in 17 seconds,” he said.
He had no difficulty describing the destruction, mayhem and general confusion immediately following the quake — people without limbs, some getting run over in the street; others wandering aimlessly, lost, confused; dead babies cast away like so much garbage.
He went five days without food or water, expecting a tsunami to finish what the earthquake started, trying to rally his people, to tell them they had to care for themselves until help arrived.
“I told them not to blame the Haitian government, because it didn’t exist anymore,” he said. “I told them they were on their own, and not to blame anyone.”
Though Thermidor is an American citizen, he spends the majority of each year in Haiti trying to lead young people down a positive path in life.
He has been able to get his wife and two kids out safely — they’re currently in Miami — and now he has his sights set on helping out anyway that he can.
He’s here in Lee County trying to raise between $10,000 – $20,000 in order to help build temporary shelters for those suffering the elements in his home country.
“This is my priority right now,” he said.
Thermidor is critical of some of the Haitian American community, those he said are interested more in self promotion than truly trying to rebuild the country.
He said he wasn’t offended or critical of the missionaries who were recently detained for trying to take orphans out of the country, because there’s little hope for those kids to lead productive valuable lives.
Thermidor said his past mission was trying to teach those kids the value of life. Of course, that mission has changed for Thermidor, and now he’s thinking of the future, and whether his entire country, not just a generation, can come back from the abyss. “This is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,” he said.
To learn more about Thermidor, and how to aid his relief efforts, call him at 440-2514, or contact Harney Point Kiwanis Club President Paul Weinstein at 822-1159.