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4 Westbury brothers get good news about parents

Jeff Suprien, seated, surrounded by cousins as he

Jeff Suprien, seated, surrounded by cousins as he waits to hear from their parents, who were in Haiti. On Friday night, an 8:30 phone call answered their prayers. Martial and Sielienne Suprien were alive. (Jan. 15, 2010) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

For four days, the brothers waited.

They couldn't sleep well, they couldn't eat, they could only hope and pray that their mother and father in Haiti were alive.

Friday night, an 8:30 phone call answered their prayers. Martial and Sielienne Suprien were alive.

"They just called me, my mom said she's good, that there wasn't a signal to call us before," said Jeffrey Suprien, 18, from their Westbury apartment. "I feel happiness. God bless me. They're well."

For the Suprien family - Jeff and his brothers, Ricardo, 16, Wendy, 15, and Jean Gardy, 9 - the horrific earthquake in Haiti hit especially close to home. Their mother, Sielienne, lives in Port-au-Prince. Their father, Martial, lives in Westbury with them but had flown to Haiti to visit her several weeks ago.

The boys and their aunts had been desperately trying to reach the couple all week, unable to get through to any family members. On Thursday, they feared the worst when Jeffrey reached a mournful neighbor in Haiti whose own family had been decimated, with many dead and missing. Their neighborhood, he told Jeffrey, was destroyed.

"He was crying and I was asking him if he had seen my mother and father," said Jeffrey. "He said no, he didn't see anything. That's why I got scared."

Jeffrey was sleeping Friday night, dozing into a dream about his mother, he said. Then, the phone rang and Jean Gardy answered. "God showed me she was OK," Jeffrey said of his dream.

Jean Gardy and Jeffrey both spoke to their mother for just a few minutes. Their father was with her but they didn't get a chance to talk to him.

Jeffrey doesn't even know exactly where his parents are. But the Westbury High School junior said just knowing they're alive - "that's all I need to know right now."

The Supriens join some other Westbury students of Haitian descent who have received good news in the past days. But for them, like others, the good news is tempered with question marks. For every piece of good news, there is bad news, or other family members still at large.

Ninety students at Westbury High School were born in Haiti and school officials estimate at least 100 more have a Haitian background.

Michael Belizaire, 17, a senior at Westbury High School heard from his father Thursday. "I am happy but I'm still scared because my uncle is missing and I don't know how it's gonna end, is he gonna be alive or is he dead?" he said.

Vayola Justinien, 18, had the same experience. Her mother called her at school Friday overjoyed to get a call from her brother and parents in Haiti, saying they had escaped Port-au-Prince and made it to their home village. "I can breathe a little," she said.

"But my dad hasn't found his family," she added.

Jeffrey's aunt, Solange Jimpert, who lives down the street, learned Friday from family members living outside of the capital that they were safe but is still awaiting news from extended family members. "This thing is making everyone sick," she said in Creole. "You sit and wait. You don't know what news is coming for you. Everyone is just sick."

Martial Suprien works in a factory in Deer Park while Jeffrey works five days a week at Walmart, sending money home to their mother, who they hope will join them soon.

Jeffrey's father was due to fly home on Sunday. He doesn't know if he'll still be able to fly home or not.

But for the moment, that just doesn't matter. "I feel lucky," Jeffrey said.

With Yamiche Alcindor

>>PHOTOS: Frantic rescue effort in Haiti | Deadliest recent earthquakes

>> LIVE: Twitter coverage of the scene in Haiti, from aid agencies, and reaction worldwide

>> VIDEOS: Latest videos from Haiti and on LI

>> MORE: Read more about LIers grieving and LI's efforts to help | Latest news from Haiti | Haiti's road to chaos: 2006 Newsday series

 


HOW TO HELP

* You can help immediately by texting "HAITI" to "90999" and a donation of $10 will be charged to your cell phone bill and given automatically to the Red Cross to help with relief efforts.

* Wyclef Jean, a rapper and hip-hop artist from Haiti, urged people to text "Yele" to 501501 to donate $5 toward earthquake relief. Yéle Haiti is a grassroots movement inspiring change in Haiti through programs in education, sports, the arts and environment, according to its Web site.

* The State Department Operations Center has set up the following number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747. The Red Cross has also set up a Web site to help family members find and contact relatives.

* You can also go online to organizations such as the Red Cross and MercyCorps to make a contribution to the disaster relief efforts.

The FBI warned Internet users to be wary of e-mail messages seeking donations in the aftermath of the quake. People who want to send money or assistance should contribute to known organizations and should be careful not to respond to unsolicited e-mails, officials said.

 

Other Web sites accepting donations include:

-Haitian Health Foundation
-Hope for Haiti
-UNICEF
-International Medical Corps
-Beyond Borders
-AmeriCares

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