Coast woman survives earthquake and continues to help kids

Elissa Kergosien in Haiti
Elissa Kergosien in Haiti

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - Elissa Kergosien, 23, grew up in Bay St. Louis, a member of a family known for its sense of service to community.

That sense of service led her to Haiti, where she still works, despite the earthquake. The mission left her parents nervous.

"You always worry about your children when they go out," her father, Bill Kergosien said. "It's difficult to let them go out and do missionary things in dangerous areas."

Elissa nurtured her need to give back at Our Lady Academy.  She graduated in 2005.  From there, it was on to Clemson University where she earned her degree seven months ago.

Carolyn Kergosien remembers her daughter's future plans back in May.

"Her goal was to spend at least a year in service of some kind and she chose the Haitian project," Carolyn said. "It is a Catholic boarding school in Haiti that is run for the purpose of educating children whose families are too poor to educate them otherwise."

Helping the children in one of the world's poorest countries is what drives her, even after the earthquake.

"She's always loved children and this way she gets to have scores of children all around her and gets to shape them and teach them various subjects," Bill said.

Elissa is still determined to make a difference and take her talents where they are needed most.

"There was an opportunity for her to use the skills she has and there's no greater need in our hemisphere than in Haiti, and that's the reason she went there," Carolyn said.

So are these parents hoping for their daughter's quick return from the earthquake ravaged country? Carolyn has an answer may surprise you.

"They have a responsibility to care for all the children and to feed and house them and provide clean water and help them reunite with their families. So no, she needs to stay in Haiti until at least that part of her mission is complete."

Until them, Mom and Dad will sit and wait for the day the family can reunite.

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