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#3519: Haitians recall tragedy at sea, urge unity within community (fwd)


Published Monday, May 8, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 Haitians recall tragedy at sea, urge unity within community

 A small group of worshipers lifted their voices in song Sunday night as
they remembered 14 Haitians presumed to have died in an ill-fated
attempt to reach the United States. The high brick walls of the United
Grace Methodist Church at 6501 N. Miami Ave. reverberated with hymns
sung in French and prayers recited in Creole. About 100 people joined
together to pay homage to the victims of the latest tragedy in a new
wave of desperate escapes. The 14 Haitians feared dead were part of a
contingent of about 300 people aboard an overloaded sailboat that ran
aground on a remote, uninhabited island in the southern Bahamas late
last month. The incident was the latest in a series of illegal
migrations on overloaded boats by Haitians fleeing via remote island
chains in the Bahamas. The exact death toll remains unknown. Sixty-five
people suffering from severe hypothermia, dehydration and exhaustion
 were evacuated from Flamingo Cay and taken to hospitals in George Town
on Great Exuma island and Nassau. Some were also suffering from kidney
failure. ``We called this service hoping the community will respond
because it's been felt that for some reason the Haitian community is
becoming indifferent to this tragedy,'' said the Rev. Jean J.E. Fritz
Bazin of the Episcopal Church of St. Paul. ``Because they happen so
often, people are feeling overwhelmed,'' he added. Following the
memorial service, a group discussion among parishioners and clergy
focused on ways to come together as a community.