Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Disaster hits home


Madouche Pierre does the book-keeping for the cafeteria in the Haitian president’s house, also known as the Beaux-Arts palace, in the capital, Port-au-Prince. He also happens to be my roommate’s cousin.

As far as my roommate Nashyka knows, Madouche was working inside the palace when the earthquake hit and leveled it on Jan. 12.

For the past two weeks, Nashyka and her family have been trying to make contact with him, his sister and his mother.

But they aren’t her only family members in Haiti.

‘We know my grandparents are safe. Their house was destroyed, and they lost everything, but they’re living out of their car and texting us when they can,’ she said.

I’ve shared a four-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on campus with Nashyka and our two other roommates since the beginning of the fall semester. It only took a few weeks after moving in for Nashyka to establish herself as the mother figure.

She is the oldest student and apparently the wisest. She’s scolded my other roommates with her eyebrows raised many, many times for leaving dishes in the sink or leaving ‘slimy crap’ in the bathroom tub.

Her notes on the fridge warn us of impending anger even when she signs them ‘Love, Nashyka.’ And I admire her for her ability to control the careless personalities of undergraduates.

That’s partly why she and I hadn’t really spoken for more than 20 minutes at a time before anyone in the U.S. got news of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that killed up to 200,000 people as of press time. There was really no need to.

I noticed her firm and happy personality change the day after the earthquake. Anyone could see that something was wrong. Her footsteps moved slowly up the stairs, and her greetings went from bubbly to forced, like she didn’t want to talk at all.

That night, Jan. 13, we talked for almost an hour. She told me everything that was going on, what she was thinking and what her family was feeling. She told me she hadn’t slept in two days, and I cried for her.

Friday, Jan. 15, I came home after a seven-hour day in the UP newsroom to a note angrily scrawled all over the bathroom mirror, and I knew she had lost her cool.

‘I’m not your mother,’ the note said. ‘I’m tired of cleaning up the dishes whenever I want to cook something. I had to clean up slimy crap from the bathtub today to take a shower. I’ve got too much to deal with right now.’

I called her and left a voicemail apologizing for our boorish habits. I was ready for a nap, but after seeing that note I didn’t want to face her wrath or provoke her further. So, I cleaned the apartment like Cinderella.

Due to our busy work and school schedules, I didn’t see Nashyka again until five days after I scrubbed the counters and swept the floors. But the next time I saw her proved to me that the seemingly small things I did for her lifted the stress a little bit.

‘I’m so bad at checking my messages,’ she explained when I saw her next. ‘But I got [your voicemail], and thank you for doing that. Things have been a lot better.’

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