By Jennifer Browning
On Friday, Dec. 10 Herold Charles was honored with a TeenNick HALO Award for his valiant effort to help people find loved ones after the Haiti earthquake.
TeenNick awarded Herold with $20,000. Half would go towards his education and the other $10,000 would go to the charity of his choice. Herold decided to split the donation between two non-profits and provide Project Medishare with a $5000 grant.
On January 12, Herold came home from school and started on his homework. Shortly after 6 p.m. a good friend called Herold to see if he had heard about the earthquake in Haiti.
Herold turned on the TV and saw reports of the 7.0 magnitude quake that had devastated his home country.
“My gut told me, oh my gosh, we in the U.S. aren’t ready for an earthquake,” Herold said, “How can Haiti be ready for an earthquake?”
Herold currently lives in Miami, but his family, including his parents, lives in Haiti. Suddenly, Herold felt a panic that so many others felt. Was his family safe?
“I rushed to my neighbors house across the street and asked to borrow her phone card to call home,” “I called many times and my parents didn’t answer, my sisters didn’t pick up. All of the calls either went to voicemail or it rang, rang and rang.”
As Herold, watched the news, he noticed the coverage shift from that of the quake to those who were starting to look for families and loved ones. The next day Herold went into action.
“The day after I began researching what resources were in Haiti and who was there to help,” he said.
After two days of waiting Herold finally heard from his sister and parents and learned that his family had survived. But there were still so many people missing.
Although he had previously deleted his Twitter account just weeks before, Herold opened a new account and went to work.
Through his Twitter account Herold started asking people to send him their phone numbers, names and addresses of their relatives missing in Haiti. Immediately, his phone began ringing.
Ten of Herold’s family and friends between Jacmel and Port-au-Prince began helping him search for the missing. When his Haiti network returned the information, it was up to Herold to return the call to let those in the U.S. know the information about their relatives. Herold said while he didn’t have to deliver bad news often, when he did, it was very difficult.
“That was the hardest part of the whole thing,” Herold said. “I don’t do good when it comes to tragedy. I started getting chills and I would get sick. When they would tell someone is missing or someone had died…the hardest part was to call the family.”
For the next three months, Herold continued to help in Haiti in a variety of ways. Such as helping organized donated food, supplies and other non-perishable items for those suffering in Haiti.
Herold learned about Project Medishare’s work in Haiti through Twitter.
“I heard so much about [Project Medishare] and their work,” he said. “And whenever we had a need for medical need for someone in Haiti, we would contact Medishare.”
While Herold worked with many organizations, he said he chose Project Medishare because of the medical work the organization provided to the people of Haiti.
“What a great way to help out, but by helping an organization doing medical work in Haiti,” Herold said. “Besides food and water, people in Haiti really need medical help.”