Local teacher Leyde St. Leger has lost family members in the Haiti earthquake disaster. * Photo supplied
Local teacher Leyde St. Leger has lost family members in the Haiti earthquake disaster. * Photo supplied
A teacher sobbed in front of his students as he told them how his relatives "had disappeared under rubble" in the Haiti earthquake.

Leyde St. Leger is struggling to come to terms with having to celebrate the survival of some family members while mourning the loss of others.

The aunt and cousin of the Haitian-American teacher at Sandys Secondary Middle School were killed when their house collapsed. Many more of his family members have been left homeless.

Mr. St. Leger spends all his free time watching the news and has been unable to sleep since Tuesday's devastating quake.

The M2 team leader and math teacher said he spoke about the earthquake for the first time yesterday morning when he read his students a series of Facebook updates from his alumni advisor. He has the "fondest memories of his youth" from M2 to S4 at Quisqueya Christian School in Port-au-Prince.

Mr. St. Leger said: "As soon as I started to speak to them tears started coming down my face, I couldn't stop.

"My kids would probably describe me as a mean and stern teacher, crying is not in my repertoire, so for them to see me in tears must have really hit home.

"It's different to watching it on the news, this was someone's comments, someone who was in the thick of it. It was his perspective of what was going on."

Mr. St. Leger says he is still in a "state of shock." He goes to work each day to "take his mind of it so he didn't have to face it."

Mr. St. Leger, 33, was born in New York to Haitian parents. The family's house in the worst-hit area of Carrefour has been "torn down" and they fear for their agricultural and livestock business.

He has been unable to get in contact with his ten aunts and uncles and numerous cousins living in the Port-au-Prince area.

Mr. St. Leger, who has been in Bermuda since 2008, said: "I have a heavy heart, the majority of my family are in Haiti. Nothing's on my agenda right now apart from going home and watching the news.

"I go home from work, sit on the edge of my bed and watch hour after hour of CNN trying to wrap my mind around how bad this is. I just keep asking myself, Haiti has been through so much, why did this have to happen? I'm trying to make sense of it all."

Mr. St. Leger received a text at about 8pm on Tuesday night from a friend "sending his condolences and saying he was sorry for what had happened."

The teacher was at home grading his schoolwork and didn't know what his friend was talking about. It was only when he switched on the TV that he discovered Haiti's capital city had been destroyed by a 7.0-magnitude quake.

Mr. St. Leger said: "I couldn't believe it, I knew those buildings, but now they've gone.

"I still feel so bad because I'm not there to give a hand and to try to make a difference. I keep thinking should I really be here or should I be on the first plane over there?"

Mr. St. Leger's only contact with those in Haiti is via the social networking website Facebook. He says locals "feel helpless" as they are unable to move the rubble quick enough while still "feeling tremors almost 48 hours later."

Mr. St. Leger said: "There are dead bodies on the streets with blankets over them.

"Schools, hospitals and hotels have collapsed but there is no-one there to rescue the trapped people.

"People are sleeping in their cars as they are too scared to return to their houses in case they collapse.

"Even the president is on TV saying he doesn't have a house anymore."

Mr. St. Leger is now spearheading a fundraising at Sandys Secondary Middle School to "reach out to Haiti". It kicks off today with pupils paying $5 to not wear their uniform to school. The school is also asking parents and children to take in unwanted clothes.

But all Mr. Leger can think about is flying to Haiti "as soon as the relief effort is set up." He said he just wanted to be there to "move rubble and hand out bottles of water."

He said: "I want to let my fellow countrymen know that I feel their pain."

Mr. St. Leger said he appreciated Bermuda's aid efforts and hoped everyone was praying for "good things" for the survivors of the tragedy.

He said: "The Haitians are the most resilient race in the Western Hemisphere. Whatever happens we continue to say our prayers and hope for a better day.

"They have been kicked down so many times and will continue to get back up."

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Capital reeling amid the stench of death