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Haitian man's survival story launches his journey to Reading

By Kimberly Davidow, Reporter
Published On: Feb 07 2013 05:05:57 PM CST

In January 2010, Junior Bernard was living with relatives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was waiting for the United States Embassy there to complete his paperwork so he could come to the United States. On Jan. 12, Bernard said he had a rude awakening.

In January 2010, Junior Bernard was living with relatives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He was waiting for the United States Embassy there to complete his paperwork so he could come to the United States. On Jan. 12, Bernard said he had a rude awakening.

"All of a sudden, I heard a voice so loud. It say, 'Hey! Get up lazy boy. This is not time to be in bed!' And as soon as I heard it, I got up. I looked around. There was no one in the room," said Bernard.

Bernard said he believes it was the voice of God warning him to get out of harm's way. On that day, a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Haiti to its core, killing more than 300,000 people.

"It felt like the whole earth, like the whole city, was going to fall in a big hole. Everyone was crying. People were yelling. It was just like living in hell," said Bernard.

When the earthquake finally stopped and the dust settled, Bernard said, "You could see what happened. Dead bodies were all over the place. Dead bodies in the streets, no houses."

Bernard stayed in Port-au-Prince for four days after the quake. Once he returned back to his home in Jeremie, he contacted his American benefactor, Bill Barr, who was supporting his dream of coming to America and get a college education, Bernard said. Their bond, Barr said, only grew stronger after the devastating quake.

"We gave money to Junior to support his community after the earthquake and he did so many remarkable things," said Barr.

With a borrowed camera, Bernard said he and his brother showed Barr how his money was being spent.

"I would buy medicine, clothes, and then I would also buy a lot of food and just go to the bus station and also the port, where we had two big boats that would bring a lot of people," said Bernard.

Bernard said he also documented his tale of survival in an email to his American friends. Little did he know, that email would become Junior's ticket out of earthquake-ravaged Haiti and bring him to Reading.

On 69 News at 5:30 p. m. Friday, the conclusion of this series will air on the Berks Edition.