Heroes star Jimmy Jean-Louis is back on American soil once again after his harrowing trip back to his devastated homeland of Haiti, following it’s 7.0 magnitude earthquake disaster of two weeks ago.
In an exclusive series of interviews Jean-Louis reported back to RadarOnline.com on his experiences in the torn apart Caribbean nation, documenting the death and destruction that has overcome Haiti in the wake of the biggest earthquake to hit the country in 200 years.
Now in an exclusive sit-down with RadarOnline.com the actor tells all about the trip that took him on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, detailing the heart breaking scenes he witnessed first hand, how he is struggling to deal with many of the lingering horrifying images from the trip, and his fear that a new breaking news story will push Haiti to the back of people’s minds and that it will be forgotten.
“It’s very difficult to accept the facts, the reality,” Jean-Louis tells RadarOnline.com. “ At this point it’s moving forward and doing the best you can for your own loved ones and for the rest of the country. But it’s so difficult. I mean, I have seen too many things that have disturbed me.”
Jean-Louis goes on to say that although he had tried to prepare himself for the horror that would inevitably unfold during his trip, it was impossible to garner even a slight idea of the reality that met him upon his arrival.
“The thing is, before I went down to Haiti I also saw the images and I saw the video so I thought I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. But not really, until you are there and actually be there, and see what I saw, such as the very first thing that I saw when I got there was just a pile of bodies being burned just in front of me, and I’m talking about 50 to 60 bodies, and when they’re done with it they just take a shovel and just put them in a hole like they’re nothing. With a strong smell that is so strong that right now I know exactly what a dead body smells like, which is a sad thing to say but I can definitely recognize the dead smell of a body.”
Jean-Louis says that seeing the dead bodies strewn in the streets, piled up on roadsides and buried in mass graves is one horror to deal with; but not knowing what is lying under the miles of collapsed buildings is yet another.
“That’s just the people, but at the same time all of the houses that are collapsed, knowing that underneath pretty much every single house there might be one person that is dead. Sometimes it’s big supermarkets and then you have maybe tens of people that are dead. And whenever you go by those places you smell, that smell that follows you. That is difficult to imagine from watching TV. And it’s one thing that one has to experience to fully understand. And then you see the devastation throughout the country and the people pretty much sleeping outside cause they don’t have homes. Even the ones that have a home don’t trust the homes to sleep inside them, they still sleep outside.”
Jean-Louis tells RadarOnline.com that he had his heart broken many times during his six-day trip, and has been left with many haunting images of human suffering and despair.
“I’ve many images that broke my heart to be honest with you, I mean everyday I’ve seen things that broke my heart. Obviously seeing the people being burned in front of me that’s pretty hard. There’s that image of that girl that had half a face completely gone and she needs surgery of course and nobody could do anything, and at one point she didn’t say anything for a good 2 or 3 minutes, and at one point she just moved around and the only thing she said was, “Mamon” meaning by that, Mom and you’re like uhhh…
“I saw too many things, I could give you at least tens of examples of things that are very much in my mind and in my heart, trying to find a way to deal with them but you can’t. Even that lady that told me that she just saw 15 of her family members being killed. She was the only one in the house that was saved. 1 out of 15 that was saved. What do you say to those people?”
Jean-Louis says he is grateful that he was able to make the trip, and to raise some level of awareness of the humanitarian crisis plaguing the already impoverished country, but that he is terrified that as the news media trucks roll out and the reporters leave to move on and report on the next breaking story, people’s memories of the disaster will fade and their willingness to provide the much needed aid and financial support will falter. He fears that the disaster, which he estimates will last for the next 10 – 15 years as Haiti struggles to rebuild, will be forgotten, along with the Haitian people.
“The fact that I was able to speak out and try to make people understand the level of that disaster, it’s not just something that is breaking news, it’s a real problem for the country. And this is something that’s going to last for the next 10 or 15 years and I feel that if next week there is new breaking news Haiti will be completely forgotten, and I know that. And that worries me, that worries me. The slightest breaking news and then they close the book on Haiti.”
Please do not forget the suffering people of Haiti, they need your help desperately. You can make a donation online to Jimmy Jean-Louis’ charity of choice Hollywood Unites For Haiti or text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross Haiti relief; your donation will be charged to your cell phone bill.