One man's mission to find his mother in Haiti


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News

Posted on January 20, 2010 at 7:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 20 at 7:55 PM

SEATTLE -- Opening "Lucid" in the University District was David Pierre-Louis' life long dream. But as the lounge owner listens to a cover of the jazz piece "Haitian Fight Song" while talking on his cell phone, you know his mind is currently elsewhere.

"I can't just sit back and not doing anything, you know," said Pierre-Louis, "and for whatever path I'm supposed to be walking this definitely falls along the same lines."

Seven lounges along University Way, including Lucid, are hosting live local jazz bands starting at 9 p.m. Wednesday to raise money for victims of last week's earthquake.

For Pierre-Louis, a Haitian-American, the devastation hits close to home. His mother was caught in the quake. He and his siblings spent two days trying to get in touch with her to no avail.

Frustrated and worried, David packed up some medical supplies and left for Port-Au-Prince.

It took Pierre-Louis more than 36 hours from Seattle to reach his mother's neighborhood. Video from his iPhone showed his driving past people living in tents, wandering the streets amidst the rubble. The quake partially collapsed his mother's house and he said no one knew who he was asking about until he used her other name.

"Does anybody know Tita, which is her nickname, " Pierre-Louis said. "'Oh yeah, yeah, yeah! Tita is over there."

He found her in a nearby home. The relief was all his. The surprise was all hers.

"The whole time, her back was to me and I tapped her on the shoulder and she just lost her mind," he said. "It was insane and extremely happy."

But no sooner had that moment passed, they began looking at the less fortunate around them and they started planning ways to bring medical supplies back to his mother's neighborhood.

"That was probably the most sad part," he said.  "The many, many people who aren't getting help."

Pierre-Louis's mother stayed in Haiti to lead relief efforts there.  David flew back to Seattle to rallying the jazz clubs.

All proceeds are going directly to Haiti, Pierre-Louis said, though he was still in talks with teams on the ground there to determine which organization will best serve his mother's community.