Haitian native attending Kirkwood Community College - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Haitian native attending Kirkwood Community College

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Mona Barthold-Gehy is a Haitian native, attending Kirk wood Community College in Cedar Rapids.

She's still recovering from the shock of seeing the devastation in her home country, but she's comforted by the support she and her fellow Haitians have received.

"I was cooking dinner, and I get my phone call from my brother in Florida, telling me, 'Mona, go to CNN," said Barthold-Gehy in an interview Thursday. That was the first time she saw what was going on back home.

"I was shaking. Everything stopped. I thought my life stopped."

Her three sisters and two brothers are alive and well, but the earthquake turned their home to rubble. Staying in touch with them has been a challenge, but she's relieved to know that they're staying close to one another.

"'We don't know what to do," she recalls her siblings telling her, "but we just stay together.' They are staying together, sleeping on the backyard."

The University of Iowa has also been reaching out to two of its students who have family and friends in Haiti. Scott King, director of the Office of International Students and Scholars, has been in close contact with them.

"I think sometimes it helps them to know that we're aware here, that world events impact our students," said King.

He's helping those students to communicate with their country, and possibly set up an aid program later on. King says it's not the first time an international student has been affected by tragic events back home.

"Several years ago, for example, there was a terrorist attack in Sri Lanka that killed several members of their military. One of them was the brother-in-law of one of our students."

Barthold-Gehy plans on returning to Haiti, to volunteer in any way she can. She hopes to bring her two children along. For now, she's grateful for the outpouring of support from the United States and other nations.

"I'm very glad, and the Haitian people will be very glad, too. Very thankful. We are very thankful about that."

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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