In an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com Haitian Heroes star Jimmy Jean-Louis shares the details, the joys and the horrors of his heart wrenching trip home to the earthquake devastated nation of Haiti.
It’s a bittersweet trip for the actor as he thankfully reunites with his parents, he at one time feared were dead, but at the same time tries to come to terms with the unimaginable horror that has hit his homeland and that he is witnessing first hand.
“It was nice and it was peaceful to see my parents because we already had comes to terms that I was coming,” Jean-Louis tells RadarOnline.com. “It was just this amazing relief to see each other. It was calm and very emotional but nice to be able to see them and hug them – a genuine simple hug. That was great.”
But the joy of reuniting was soon overshadowed by the realization of the devastation of his surroundings in the developing country that was hit by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, the largest earthquake to have struck the world in 200 years.
“As I said I had a house that collapsed and another house next door and there are people laying dead underneath the house,” Jean-Louis shares. “From going around the neighborhood, from where we are, everyday, many times a day, I don’t know how many times they come and they bring dead bodies just to burn them, just to burn.
VIDEO: Heroes Star, “There Is Nothing Left To Live For” In Haiti
“You see them being burned, you smell them. It’s the most horrific picture I have ever seen. Something I wouldn’t wish anyone would ever see, it’s so graphic. The bodies in the streets become like a piece of garbage the way they treat them.”
“As you go around the city you smell that smell, you know exactly how the human body smells because it becomes natural to you. The same way you could recognize the smell of a flower. Now people can recognize the smell of a human body. It is absolutely disgusting.”
An obviously traumatized and horrified Jean-Louis tries to share with RadarOnline.com the magnitude of the levels of destruction and havock that have been wreaked.
“It is so terrible what has happened to Haiti,” Jean-Louis says. “I think people still have no idea even with all the pictures you see, even with all the videos you see, you still have no idea of how bad it is. You really don’t. It is extremely, extremely bad.
“What I have noticed is that so far everyone is just reporting from Port-Au-Prince, from the capital, and it revolves around the capital, but then you realize that the same earthquake went miles and miles and miles around to hit three, four, five other big cities. It’s just that people can’t make it yet to the next city.”
“So far that’s where the airport is so people concentrate around the airport but then there are other cities where in some of them 80 percent of the city is down, the entire city, and they still haven’t received any help.”
Jean-Louis says that he has nothing to relate the destruction to, and that he can only imagine that it is akin to a war zone. “Everywhere you go the buildings are just flat on the floor, just sitting there. What I mean is that they are flat and whoever was inside these buildings are still inside, trapped, and they can not get any help because nobody knows how to get underneath the building to rescue them. So you pass by these buildings and they smell of bodies. I feel so, so sad about this situation.”
But despite the horror that is permeating around the country Jean-Louis shares with RadarOnline.com that the natural resilience and the strong spirit of the Haitian people gives them the strength, even though they are shocked and stunned to the core, to go on with everyday life as best they can.
“Even with some people losing everything you still see people being so well behaved,” he says. “They all sit outside amongst themselves. Some of them sing just to keep the spirit up.
“The picture of what I see is the maturity of the city, I see a bunch of people who just can’t believe what just happened to them.”
“They are in shock – in total shock – some of them are just sitting in front of their dead loved ones, some of them are just sitting in front of their destroyed houses, they just don’t know what just hit them.
“Now of course they are hungry, but there’s no food for them. Now pieces of, pieces of bodies are all over the place. Because it’s been five days with all those dead bodies around without any treatment, without anybody caring about, not even trying to remove some of them because they can’t, because they don’t have the machinery necessary to do the job.”
And Jean-Louis’ family and loved ones are no different to anyone else in the country as they struggle to come to terms with their losses, both material and human.
“Some of my family are doing OK,” the actor says. “Some of them are not doing OK. But at the end of the day you look around and everybody is in the same place, everybody cares about everybody else as well as their own families.
“One of my best friends that I grew up with just lost his daughter, four months after he lost his son. He had a son that was born four months ago and died now this earthquake has taken his little girl too.
“It’s everybody, everybody has somebody that has died. Everybody has a horror story.
“Today there was a guy in the square asking for help. I asked him what he wanted, what was going on? He said that he had lost both his parents, and his wife and that his three children were buried under his house, he said he needed help.
“But what can anybody do? Where do you start? That is just one example in millions.
“I have been driving around to different areas where the whole area is down and some of those areas where absolutely everything has collapsed. It is something that you really can not explain, you really can not. You have to be here to fully understand. What you see totally blows your mind.
“There is no electricity or running water. People have no shelter and no food or emergency care. People are trying to sleep but there’s nowhere for them to go. People are shocked, they are huddled together in the streets trying to sleep. It is just total devastation.”
Jean-Louis urges you to do your part to help. Please make donations to the Red Cross. You can donate online or automatically give $10 to assist the Red Cross efforts by texting “HAITI” TO 90999. You can also donate online at Hollywood Unites For Haiti.