Haitian Student Finds New Home, Hope In Oklahoma
Dana Hertneky, News 9
SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- Wednesday marks one year since a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, killing 220,000 people and leaving more than a million people homeless. But the tragedy brought a new start for one man nearly 2,000 miles away in Oklahoma.
After the tragedy, St. Gregory's University in Shawnee announced they were offering a full ride scholarship, tuition and room and board to a Haitian student effected by the quake.
One year later, Andy Blain said he has found a new home and new hope in Oklahoma.
Haitians call it "the day everything collapsed." A 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the country. Blain was in Port-au-Prince when the quake hit.
"The sad, the real sad thing was the day after the earthquake when people really realized what really happened, how many people died," recalled Blain. "You could be able to walk in the street and see dead on both sides."
Immediately, he started helping pull people from the rubble. But in the following days he realized the state university he had planned on attending had collapsed.
At St. Gregory's University in Shawnee, they saw the devastating pictures on the news.
"There were very few things people could do apart from sending money to help and we thought the way we could help was to offer a catholic education to someone who's from a predominantly catholic country: Haiti," said Rev. Nicholas Ast, O.S.B., the University's Vice President for Mission and Identity. "We felt that this was a good way to put our own mission into practice."
Blain found out about the scholarship from a friend who saw it on CNN.
"They say that they have kind of a contest to recruit a student from Haiti," said Blain. "I went for it and here I am."
Blain is now spending the anniversary of the quake starting his second semester of classes at SGU.
He said he tries not to think about what his country went through. It's just too hard. But he also knows for him that day also brought opportunity, he never would have had.
"Live your faith, because I do believe in God and I feel blessed to be here," Blain said.
Blain is studying business and after getting his degree he said he wants to work on poverty and development issues around the world.