Celebrity outreach to Haiti may be dominating the headlines , but everyday heroes truly do exist in the wake of the calamity caused by the earthquake that crippled the country.
For instance in Brooklyn, New York, local radio station Radyo Pa Nou has been assisting the local Haitian community by helping to locate loved ones lost on the island .
Jeffrey Joseph, the vice president and general manager of the station, told MTV News on Friday (January 15) how they’ve been able to communicate back and forth to Haiti — Radyo Pa Nou contacts sister stations in other zones, away from Port-au-Prince, and relays names that have been called into them.
Joseph said his station has received upward of 200 calls from New York families hoping to find out if uncles, aunts and other relatives are still alive. Employees have been taking turns fielding calls and gathering names. The results have varied.
“I could say, like, a good 15 to 20 percent success rate of [actually] locating family members,” Joseph explained. “Because the manpower we have down there is limited.”
Despite a shortage of help, the process is nothing short of remarkable.
According to Joseph, after his station relays names to Haiti, someone on the other end will order volunteers to physically bike or walk into the street in search of the names they’ve been given.
“They ride to the neighborhood or, if they know someone that’s closer to that neighborhood, they’ll contact someone from there,” he explained. “If they give us [back] a long list of 20 to 30 people, we’ll say [on our airwaves], ’The Joseph family calling about your two sons, they’re alive.’ And then we’ll go from there, on and on.”
Like many in the Haitian community, Joseph is grateful for all the assistance from around the globe — but he also stressed the need for his countrymen to rise to the challenge created by the devastating earthquake.
“The worst is behind us, but as Haitians it’s up to us to rebuild the country,” he said. “We’re gonna keep working 24/7, whatever it takes. We’re Haitian and we share the same bloodlines and our brothers and sisters are in need. We have to step up and give them a hand.”
Learn more about what you can do to help with earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti , and for more information, see Think MTV. Join George Clooney and Wyclef Jean for MTV’s “Hope for Haiti” telethon , airing commercial-free Friday, January 22, at 8 p.m. ET.