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Bronx Haitian worries about family

When news from earthquake-shattered Port-au-Prince reached the Bronx, Haitian-American doctors packed for home. Haitian-American clergyman gathered donations.

Beckson Ganiche failed to reach his mother by phone. Then Ganiche, 22, unleashed his fear and frustration on a padded punching bag at Stratford Avenue’s World Class Boxing Gym.

Ganiche, 22, immigrated to the United States in 2003. He had family in the Bronx initially but his mother and brothers remained in Port-au-Prince. Today, Ganiche is, in his own words, “solo.”

He heard about the earthquake on Hot 97 radio and watched television news alone. Is life hard so far from his family?

“Not really,” Ganiche said. “Because I’m grown. When I was young it was different. But I became a man.”

Well-connected Haitian-Americans, from hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean to St. Barnabas Hospital surgeons, made headlines in the wake of the earthquake and for good reason. Many were able to help Haiti in important ways.

Ganiche wanted to go home, wanted to help. But his attempts have fizzled out.

“I wish I was there,” he said. “But you need to go with someone, a group. To go by myself would be too hard. Where would I sleep?”

Ganiche is an amateur hip-hop artist; he plans to release an album titled “Earthquake.” The Louis D. Brandeis High School graduate, aka “Yung Age,” only began to box five months ago.

“Why do I box?” Ganiche said. “Because there’s money in it.”

In the aftermath of the earthquake, World Class Boxing Gym co-owner Waleska Roldan had gym members donate food, water, clothes and baby supplies. By Sunday, January 17, they had filled two vans and a station wagon. Besides Ganiche, another gym member’s wife is Haitian.

“We helped because we consider each other family,” Roldan said.

Ganiche was touched.

“I thought no one cared,” he said. “But a lot of people want to show Haiti love.”

Ganiche hopes to live in Haiti again some day. He counted the island nation’s problems one by one: drought, corruption, political disorder.

When Ganiche did finally reach his mother by phone, she told him that she was unharmed. She planned to return to the countryside, anywhere but a chaotic Port-au-Prince. More than a week after the earthquake, Ganiche had yet to hear from his childhood friends.

Although he tries to keep his mind on life in the Bronx, reminders of Haiti seem to loom everywhere. Ganiche went to see the post-apocalyptic Denzel Washington film The Book of Eli for fun.

“But [the bombed-out landscape] looked like Haiti on TV,” he said. “Destroyed.”

Reach reporter Daniel Beekman at 718 742-3383 or dbeekman@cnglocal.com

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CNG: Community Newspaper Group