Monday, March 1
a tribute to an amazing woman
COLIN SMITH\The Nelson Mail IN MEMORY: Emily Sanson-Rejouis second from right, carrying her daughter Alyahna 2, follows one of the coffins out of Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral after today's service.
Hundred of mourners and wellwishers packed Nelson Cathedral this afternoon for the memorial service for Haiti earthquake victims Emmanuel Rejouis and his daughters Kofie-Jade 5, and three year-old Zenzie Sanson-Rejouis.
A procession of pallbearers, including close family members, carried in three white coffins for the start of the three-hour service marked by a litany of tributes from people from around the world who travelled to Nelson for the service.
Nelson-born Emily Sanson-Rejouis was unharmed in the quake which claimed her husband and two daughters, while youngest daughter, Alyahna, 2, was pulled from the hotel, where they had been living, with a broken leg.
Kofie-Jade's body arrived just an hour before today's service.
Mrs Sanson-Rejouis' sister Rachel Sanson said services were held simultaneously in cities around the world today, by friends and family members unable to be in Nelson.
She acknowledged the immense efforts of government agencies, and Emily's United Nations colleagues, who had ensured Kofie-Jade's body had arrived in time for today's service.
The five year-old's body was found in the rubble just days ago.
Dean of Nelson's Christ Church Cathedral, the Very Reverend Charles Tyrrell, said it was at first unimaginable that the shockwaves from the earthquake would be felt here in Nelson.
He said the Bishop of Haiti placed the scale of the tragedy in context when he said "not a soul had been untouched". Entire families had disappeared in the January 12 earthquake, and the wreckage was "beyond imagination".
Mr Rejouis' sister Guerdy Rejouis-Abraira read a tribute on behalf of their sibling Rose Rejouis, who was staging a simultaneous ceremony in New York. She described their grief as unbearable.
Another sibling Sheila Rejouis said in her tribute at the Cathedral today their parents were inconsolable, but no matter how difficult times were ahead, Emily and Alyahna would ensure the bond between the families would never be broken.
Mrs Sanson-Rejouis' father Roger Sanson described what happened as a "random act of nature", which could have happened anywhere. The loss of a beautiful family was a tragedy that can't be described, but has to be endured in great pain.
"It could have happened in Wellington or in Nelson, but it was Haiti and you were all there. How you managed to do what you did on that night and the next day, most will never know," Mr Sanson said in describing how his daughter had worked with her bare hands and had then persuaded a group of young men to help free her daughter and two other people.
"You saved three lives, and one of those lives was Alyahna.
"Emily, I know you will wrestle for a long time with these events, but you assured Alyahna survived healthy and whole.
"We each live on a precipice of uncertainty and the unexpected. I am amazed by your efforts to reach back to support friends and colleagues who have also suffered significant losses,'' Mr Sanson said.
The bodies of the three family members are to be buried at a private service tomorrow.