Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Jovenel Moise was the first ever Haitian president to be assassinated. He’s the first Haitian president to be assassinated since Jean Vilbrun Guillaume Sam in 1915.
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY)– The happiest day of Yasmine Charles’ life was the day she became a U.S citizen by way of the US Navy. She has lived in the U.S. for 29 years but Haiti is where her heart is.
“It was devastating; it’s exhausting because I know my history; I know my people; I know our struggle. In fact, I still have my history book from when I was in elementary school in Haiti,” said Charles from her home in Norfolk.
Haitian history includes numerous coups backed by the west, and numerous man-made and natural disasters.
Charles’ collection of photos offer a cross-section of pain and resilience in Haiti. Immediate family members live in the U.S but a host of relatives remain in Haiti.
“I talked to my cousin yesterday and they are in constant fear there have been days where they did not want to go to school because of high rates of kidnapping you step out of your house you don’t know if you can make it back,” said Charles.
There are criminal, political, and pandemic problems. Covid-19 vaccinations have yet to begin for 11-million people. Charles is hoping her loved ones can escape.
“Right now I’m in the plans of trying to get my cousins my aunts moved out of there because Turkey right now is actually taking Haitian immigrants and I’m gonna make it happen,” said Charles who added she will consider other countries for relocation.
Charles who is an author, former college instructor, and chef has street credibility in helping others. Once homeless, Charles routinely combs the streets of Hampton Roads looking for homeless veterans in need.
Charles has launched a gofundme page to raise thousands of dollars that will be needed to relocate family members to a welcoming country. She says the people of Haiti just want happiness.