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Qualls family has ties to quake victim

The ground in Brookhaven didn’t move an inch when abiblical-sized earthquake shook down Haiti last week, but a fewlocal families felt it nonetheless.

Some are going to feel it for years to come.

Haitian native Oswald Ossé, 34 – husband of Brookhaven nativeSabrina Qualls Ossé and son-in-law of Bogue Chitto’s Stanford andFronie Qualls – lost his little sister in the quake when a marketin downtown Port-au-Prince collapsed on her.

Jessie Ossé, 16, had gone to buy groceries for her large familywhen the magnitude 7.0 quake destroyed the store and killedeveryone in it. She is one of tens of thousands who died.

Oswald has spent the week worrying about the rest of his family,who on Saturday morning made it safely out of the disaster that isPort-au-Prince to the nearby town of Thomassique to stay withrelatives. Communications have been spotty at best, and he hasdepended on scratchy cell phone calls every few days to keep trackof his mother and siblings and the fate of his little sister’sbody.

“They said they did something with the body, but it’s kind ofhard right now to bury somebody in a normal funeral,” he said fromhis and Sabrina’s home in Nashville, Tenn.

Still, Oswald is trying to keep his head up. He is focused onthe safety of his family and friends in Haiti, which is strugglingto dig out of the rubble even as assistance from many nationsarrives.

“Right now, we are the only ones in a position to do something,so we have to keep our heads up,” he said. “If you cry after that,it’s OK.”

Sabrina, 32, a 1995 graduate of Brookhaven High School, met herHaitian husband in that country when they crossed paths whileworking for separate Christian missions. She said she and herhusband first learned of the death in the family by a voice messagethat showed up on Oswald’s phone around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

He tried to call back all day without success.

“To get a message instead of actually talking to somebody, thataffected him even more,” she said. “For him, it was unbelievable.She was so young, and she had dreams.”

Sabrina said her man is anxious to get back to his native islandnation and be with his family, but flying into Port-au-Prince isimpossible.

“He wants to leave like yesterday, but you can’t get a flightout to there right now,” she said.

In the meantime, local efforts are under way to help the Osséfamily in Haiti.

Sabrina’s aunt, Jacqueline Qualls Evans, has helped establishedthe Ossé Haiti Relief Fund at State Bank. Donations to the fundwill be sent to Oswald’s family through Global Vision CitadelleMinistries and Love a Child, Inc., two non-profit Christianorganizations Oswald and Sabrina are affiliated with.

“By setting up this fund, we can assure the funds our neighborsand friends are giving will go directly to them,” Evans said.

Evans said checks should be made out to Ossé Haitian Relief Fundand taken to any State Bank location.