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January 13, 2010
For Jean-Francois, the disaster in Haiti hits home

Ricky Jean-Francois has heard from his older brother but is still awaiting word about his grandmother and cousins living in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The nation was hit by a 7.0 earthquake Tuesday and much of the capital city, including hospitals, hotels and the presidential palace, is in ruins. Jean-Francois' father emigrated from Haiti to Miami in the mid 1970s. Jean-Francois, a 49ers defensive lineman, is in Miami now waiting for his phone to ring.

He said he spoke briefly with his brother who said that he had to dodge a falling ceiling fan when the earthquake struck. When he went outside, his bother saw that much of Port-au Prince, a city of 2 million, had been flattened. "In Haiti, everything is made out of cement," Jean-Francois said. "There are barely any houses left standing."

Jean-Francois said he was trying to rally the NFL and the players to pitch in to relief efforts. He said the nation, the poorest in the western hemisphere, has been struck by four hurricanes since 1998 but that this disaster is by far the worst. He said he hoped people not only would donate money but also physically help out in Haiti. He said he would use the NFL's presence in Miami - the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl will be held there next month - to rally support.

Jean-Francois noted that the musician Wyclef Jean, who was born in Haiti and whose Yele Haiti Foundation strives to lift the nation from poverty, is spear-heading relief efforts. People can make a donation by texting "Yele" to 501501, which will automatically donate $5 to the Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund. The $5 will be charged to your cell phone bill.

The American Red Cross has set up a similar system. By texting "HAITI" to 90999, you can donate $10 to American Red Cross relief efforts for Haiti. The amount will be added to your cell phone credit card bill.

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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