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Norwalk's Haitians Pray for Their Homeland

Fritz Pierre-Louis and his family barely escaped injury or worse a little more than a year ago in the Haitian earthquake . The 10-year-old stood in City Hall, lit a candle and said prayers for Haiti on Friday with a small group of people with deep ties to the country.

The Rev. Frantz Desruisseaux of St. Joseph Church led the candlelight vigil, which had been scheduled for the one-year anniversary of the quake but was postponed by snow. Desruisseaux read from the Gospel according to Luke. "The Lord is my life and my salvation," the group of 14 people repeated again and again.

Fritz's mom, Yverline Pierre-Louis, said she and her husband had just left a building when the earthquake started. "It went down seconds after I left," she said. Her escape was a matter of chance. "I didn't feel the building shake," she said. "We got in the car, in the garage, and he went right. And he always made a left, but this time he went right. All we felt was the car went up, then down and shake, and I said, 'What is this?' I said, 'Honey, isn't this a new car?'" She thought something was wrong with the engine because of the way the car was shaking.

She said Hail Marys until the shaking stopped. "Some people got out but some were not so lucky," she said of the building. "We lost quite a few."

Pierre-Louis was born in Haiti but was raised in Norwalk. Her husband is from Haiti and is there now.

Desruisseaux said about 80 Haitian families live in Norwalk. He has been in Norwalk for 26 years and leads a service at 5:15 p.m. Sundays for Haitians. He estimated Stamford has 200 Haitian families and Bridgeport has 300.

Pierre-Louis said she and her three children visited Haiti at Christmas. "It's not all bad as sometimes the TV says it is," she said.

Gabrielle Pierre-Louis, 15, agreed. "Some people think it's always so ugly, there's garbage everywhere, but there's nice places, nice beaches. ... Even after the earthquake, it's still a nice place."

Gabrielle and her siblings were at her best friend's house when the earthquake happened. They went back last summer to try to start a soup kitchen and to give people gifts. She said, "We're here for something."

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