2010-01-22 / Front Page

Madelaine Workers Wait Word

More than 100 Haitian workers crowded into the employee’s lunchroom at Rockaway’s Madelaine Chocolate Novelties Company on Friday afternoon to hear company officials and local politicians outline a plan to help them find the loved ones who are injured or missing in the wake of the massive earthquake that hit the beleaguered island last week.

Madelaine Chocolate’s shop steward, Pierre Jackson, talks with workers. He also translated for company officials and politicians. Madelaine Chocolate’s shop steward, Pierre Jackson, talks with workers. He also translated for company officials and politicians. Published reports say that Madelaine is the largest employer of Haitians in the city, and many of those in the lunchroom had already received the sad news that relatives had died in the quake.

Far more, however, were uncertain of their relative’s fate.

Nicholas Joseph’s mother-in-law, Melitha Deval, lived in Port-Au-Prince, the epicenter of the quake. She remains missing.

“We speak regularly, but we have not been able to contact her since Wednesday [the day the quake struck],” he told a Wave reporter. “We fear the worst, but hope for the best.”

Workers indicated that they have lost a loved one in the massive earthquake that hit Haiti last week. Workers indicated that they have lost a loved one in the massive earthquake that hit Haiti last week. Joseph and the others had stopped work with the permission of the company’s owner, George Farber, to listen to Congressman Anthony Weiner and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer outline plans to help find their loved ones.

“We’re going to take names of those who are missing and pass them on to American aid workers going to Haiti,” Weiner said. “We are going to ask officials to find them and have them contact you.”

His words were translated for the immigrants by Pierre Jackson, a shop steward who speaks both Creole French and English. Few of the workers at the meeting spoke English well enough to understand Weiner’s words.

A distraught woman, who lost four members of her family, listens to Congressman Anthony Weiner outline his plan for assisting the workers in finding their loved ones. A distraught woman, who lost four members of her family, listens to Congressman Anthony Weiner outline his plan for assisting the workers in finding their loved ones. Farber pledged $10,000, half to send rescue workers and supplies to those in need in the island nation and the rest to assist employees in finding and assisting their relatives.

John Joseph’s wife, Carlene, remains missing in Haiti. Joseph sat and listened to Jackson’s translation and then got on line, clutching a scrap of paper on which was written the last-known address and telephone number of his missing wife.

He planned to give it to Weiner so that he could help track her down.

Almost all of the immigrants on the line had similar scraps of paper.

They slowly moved on the line toward where Weiner’s aides were taking the names.

Wave editor Howard Schwach speaks with one of the Haitian immigrants who works for the chocolate company. Wave editor Howard Schwach speaks with one of the Haitian immigrants who works for the chocolate company. “We have to thank him for helping us,” one of many who was too distraught to give his name, said. “We need lots of help.”
Shop steward Pierre Jackson, owner George Farber, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer address the workers. Shop steward Pierre Jackson, owner George Farber, Congressman Anthony Weiner and Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer address the workers.

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