The Children From The Boat Brought Tears to Parishioners

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Michel Nau
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 3:38 pm

The Children From The Boat Brought Tears to Parishioners

Post by Michel Nau » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:15 am

Young survivors bring Little Haiti church to tears

One by one they walked in: five girls in spring flower dresses with their hair neatly braided, nine boys in black slacks and white shirts. No one noticed the children -- ages 10 to 17 -- until the priest interrupted his homily.

''These are the kids from the boat,'' the Rev. Reginald Jean-Mary told a packed Notre Dame d'Haiti Catholic Church just as the children took their seats up front.

At their first visit to the Little Haiti church, the young survivors -- who had remained nameless and faceless since they arrived from Haiti on a rickety wooden sailboat that washed up on Hallandale Beach March 28 -- brought tears to Notre Dame's parishioners.

Emotions ran deep at the Sunday services -- just one day after 1,200 mourners had come to the same church to bury the one known man who didn't survive among 102 who arrived on the trip: Lifaite Lully, 24.
The children didn't speak but gave church members an insight into their harrowing journey through a song they asked to sing in their native Creole.

''Deliver me, oh Lord. I feel I am drowning,'' the children sang, some choking back tears. ``Water is getting to my neck. I feel like I am stuck in mud. I don't have anywhere for me to rest my head. A lot of people are making me suffer, they turn me into an enemy. They put me in jail for nothing.''

As the Haitian children -- all designated as ''unaccompanied minors'' by immigration authorities -- sang, parishioners joined in and teared up.
Some in the crowded church wailed loudly as if they, too, were reliving the trip that Haitians on board said took 22 days -- much of it without food or water, at one point cooking rice with saltwater.

Before they sang, with Lully's grief-stricken mother sitting in the front row, the children looked toward her, and in a show of solidarity each donned a T-shirt bearing Lully's image and the Haitian community's message for equal treatment. They wore the T-shirt over their donated clothes.

''They have experienced a lot of trauma at sea,'' said Jean-Mary, who asked officials at Boystown, where the children are being detained, to allow them to attend services at Notre Dame.

Jean-Mary hopes the rare outings will give the children, reared in the Catholic faith, a sense of hope and allow them to cope with their unknown future. He did not allow anyone in church to take photos of the children or to ask them anything about their trip. They were immediately escorted out of church after the service.

''Coming to church is a good opportunity for them to see people, to see the Haitian community and not feel as if they are alone,'' he added.

For Haitian Americans at Notre Dame -- many of them survivors of their own perilous journey to Florida -- the children were a bittersweet symbol: the hope of a better tomorrow mixed with the sorrow of their uncertain future.

Since the migrants' arrival, Haitian and immigrant activists have stepped up calls for the Bush administration to change its policy of detaining Haitians and to release all of the migrants -- especially the children.

''The first priority for us is to try and get the children reunited with family members. However nice a shelter is, it's never the same as a home where you know people and you feel more comfortable with them,'' said Deborah Lee, one of the attorneys at the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center representing the youngsters.

But she and FIAC executive director Cheryl Little admitted that winning the legal fight to remain in the United States will be an uphill battle.

''It's especially difficult for children because most arrive extremely traumatized and they are not entitled to a free lawyer, a guardian and they are facing a very complex legal system,'' Little said.

Michel Nau
Posts: 72
Joined: Mon Jan 01, 2007 3:38 pm

Post by Michel Nau » Tue Apr 24, 2007 10:37 am

Sa nou pansè de ti moun piti kap pran batô pou kitè peyi d'Ayiti???

Pami tout moun ki li forum sa si nou pa bay opinyon nou se ke ti moun sa yo pa bezwen kontè sou nou.

If they can make this perilous journey without our help, they can make it here without us.

It's not how big the dog in a fight is, it's how big the fight is in the dog.

Anpil nan nou pa gen kouraj ak konviksyon, optimism, e la fwa nan yon demin miyo pou pran yon ti batô avek tout moun sa yo pou fe voyaj sa.

Ti moun sa yo piti se vre min avek la gras de Dye, premye batay sa yo genyen li.
Kounyen la, se tou pa nou pou nou fe yo rete nan peyi isit


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