The May 27/28 event in Vailsburg, NJ

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The May 27/28 event in Vailsburg, NJ

Post by admin » Tue May 30, 2006 10:35 am

Dear friends,

I finally took a day of rest yesterday (well, a good part of the day anyway, but not all since I already was hard at work building a new website to reflect the hard work we have accomplished together at this extraordinary conference of May 27-28 in Vailsburg, NJ. So many of you have sacrificed a day of rest and travelled such long distances to respond to my call (for a stronger, broader coalition of Haitian-American communities) that I could not possibly let you down, let US (YOU + ME) down.

If, near the end of the day, Sunday, I expressed some weariness (Marleine Bastien, ever perceptive, did notice it) at the thought of having to carry on with the burden of organizing by myself, I am sorry and I apologize. While it is true that we, as a community, often sit back, "rale ti chèz ba nou", and watch "the other" fail (as we too often do with our governments and all other types of organizations), I truly have no right to make that assumption about you, given the fact that you clearly demonstrated your will to participate in this new effort, first by coming to Vailsburg NJ (from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, Connecticut, New York City, Spring Valley, various communities throughout New Jersey, and God only knows where else), then by accepting the challenge that I posed to each of you, including those who may have been reluctant to speak publicly, to tell the rest of us your perspective on this new initiative for the mobilization of Haitian immigrants in New Jersey and elsewhere and an effective coordination of our service organizations with the view of strengthening them.

You have generously contributed your viewpoints on those two major topics. A lot of it has been captured on videotape. I hope that it will be successfully edited and transferred to DVD, in that this would constitute a major record of our accomplishment on May 27 and May 28, 2006. Jodi Georges and the team from Spring Valley, I wait to hear from you in that regard. Such extraordinary moments should be preserved, so as to give a lie to the skeptics and cynics who would much prefer drown themselves in negativism.

As I said, I will not let you down...

However, I must also ask you to do your part, that is to do even more than you have done already. FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, SEND ME YOUR EVALUATION OF THIS CONFERENCE. Yes, each and every one of you. What do you think was good, even great, about it? What could have been done better? What was terrible perhaps about it (never mind my feelings)? What did you take with you (in your heart and your mind) from this conference? Did you feel that you had enough opportunity to express fully your point of view, without any sort of intimidation? What were the points that you feel had to be addressed and that we did not? [We readily confess to imperfect planning.] What are your thoughts on how we should proceed?

FEEL FREE TO ADD ANY OTHER CONSTRUCTIVE THOUGHT ON OUR MEETINGS OF MAY 27 and MAY 28. I GREATLY VALUE YOUR FEEDBACK.

I know that you will not sit back and watch this initiative fail, because if you do, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would be a collective failure. However, we are already on a WINNING TRACK. We would not be the first to try and succeed! There are some extraordinary models of success within our own community: FANM AYISYEN NAN MIYAMI, to cite only one. Marleine would only be too happy to continue to share her recipes for organizational success with the rest of us. When we have in our midst people like Jocelyne Mayas, Georgette Delinois, Jean-Claude Roy, Sandy Calixte, Ninaj Raoul, Ray Laforest, Johnny McCalla, Steve Polanve, Margareth Fequiere, Erna Letemps, Judith Noel, Jodi Georges, Kaity Trinidad, Martine Fabien, Frantz Brillant *** AND YOU *** (because I am not about to cite every one, I just wanted to give an idea of the quality of community leaders who were assembled this weekend), HOW CAN WE FAIL? There is only one way that I can think of: if we let ourselves fail. Please do not do that. Let's stay true to each other. It will be a win/win situation.

Once again, make absolutely sure to forward me your feedback. Just don't wait for my call. I need it in writing before then. You have already demonstrated your commitment. Now, please make your mark so we keep going forward.


At your service,
Guy S. Antoine
Haitian Program Coordinator
New Jersey Immigration Policy Network

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NJIPN's Haitian Event on May 27 and May 28, in Newark NJ

Post by admin » Tue May 30, 2006 5:34 pm

NJIPN's Haitian Event on May 27 and May 28, in Newark NJ

Number of people who participated on either one or both days: 60. Almost each one of them could be described as community leaders, which was precisely our target group for the information we intended to convey, so they would in turn communicate with their community base. The NJIPN Board of Trustees were represented by Jocelyn McCalla (NCHR) and Jack Martin (Jubilee Network and Haiti Solidarity Network of the Northeast).

The meeting was highly participatory. We recognized everyone and individually and gave every person in attendance the opportunity to voice their opinions on a renewed effort to bring about the mobilization of Haitian immigrants in New Jersey and elsewhere, as well as a more effective coordination of our service organizations with the view of strengthening them.

Specifically:

- Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of "Haitian Women in Miami", was the keynote speaker. She spoke of the challenges she and 4 other women had to overcome, starting with with a fund of only $5,000 and turning their center into the premier service organization that it is, for Haitian Refugees and other Haitian Immigrants.

- Jocelyn McCalla gave an overview of the current immigration situation. Marleine explained in detail the special immigration rulings that were enacted over the years to cover Haitian immigrants, in particular.

- Jocelyn also pushed forward the idea of forming a new organization, and urged the attendance to support me in this endeavor, to insure my continuous service to the immigrant cause.

- Various other community leaders spoke on the issues identified by Marleine, Johnny and myself. Among them:

* Ray Laforest, Labor Organizer, and board member of WBAI, Pacifica Radio Network
* Ninaj Raoul, Executive Director of Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees
* Amery, Executive Director of Artists United for Haiti
* Georgette Delinois, President of Haiti Solidarity Network
* Erna Letemps, Principal of Trinity Academy in Montclair
* Nekita Lamour, educator, writer, columnist, and theologian
* Jean-Claude Roy, Vice President of National City Bank
* Catherine Saintilien, Executive Director of Jefferson Park Ministries
* Jodi Georges, Haitian TV media director in Spring Valley, New York
* Judith Noel, from the Corey Booker mayoral campaign, who announced that she came as a representant of the mayor-elect

Furthermore, as previously mentioned, practically everyone in the audience had the opportunity to voice their opinions quite constructively.

They all spoke generally about the themes which we had selected:
1) the current immigration situation and the strong anti-immigrant climate
2) the necessity for Haitians to make their voices heard in the national debate
3) the formation of a solidarity network ASAP, to carry the momentum of this event and to help solidify links between our various community organizations.

We discussed general guidelines and principles, which came about democratically, through extensive dialogue and consensus building. As for a concrete plan of action, a new meeting was set for June 11, at 4:00pm (the locale, as yet not specified). A dozen people committed to come to that meeting, so we can continue where we left off.

There was plenty of delicious ethnic food, planned and spontaneous entertainment, drumming, vocals with guitar, and even some folkloric dancing. The surprise of the event was Johnny singing his rendition of a socially engaged song. Therefore we had the perfect mix, so to speak: great food, entertainment, camaraderie, and a serious, involved debate on the issues, without neglecting to establish a follow-up meeting for further action.

By the time, the two-day conference was over, there was overwhelming buy-in from conference attendees.


Guy S. Antoine
Haitian Program Coordinator
New Jersey Immigration Policy Network

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Some pictures of the event

Post by admin » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:44 pm

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The unforgettable Marleine Bastien

Post by admin » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:55 pm

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Guest

Post by Guest » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:43 pm

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