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9150: Haitian-Americans rally in Delray to show support for U.S. efforts (fwd)




From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Haitian-Americans rally in Delray to show support for U.S. efforts
By Merle Augustin
Staff Writer

September 24, 2001

DELRAY BEACH  Waving American flags and carrying money in carefully folded 
envelopes, an overflow crowd of Haitian-Americans came from across South 
Florida on Sunday to show support for terrorist-attack victims.

Nearly 2,000 people filled the seats and aisles of the Drug Abuse Foundation 
building on South Swinton Avenue for an interfaith service. Those who 
couldn't get that far crammed the building's lobby and courtyard, some 
decked out in shirts with the American flag and mottoes such as "United We 
Stand" or "God Bless America."

"Haitians have been coming here for so long. We could not let this happen 
and not do anything," said Lesly Jacques, the event organizer and owner of 
the Radio Amerique International station in Boca Raton.

The organizers hope to raise $50,000 that will be sent to the Red Cross or 
United Way.

The service, a mix of patriotism and religion, began with The Star-Spangled 
Banner and ended with God Bless America. Afterward, hundreds of people made 
donations.

Pastor George Fabre Sr. of Christian Light Restoration Center in Lauderhill 
urged everyone to have faith.

"We are at the beginning of a great patriotic and spiritual awakening," he 
said. "A few years ago, people were burning the flags. Now Americans are 
showing more concern for the flag," he said.

For many, Sunday's service was a way to repay the country that gave them 
refuge from a brutal dictatorship and hopeless poverty.

Maria Francois, a seasonal hotel worker who came to the United States more 
than 20 years ago with her four children, carried a four-foot American flag. 
She also had a small envelope containing a $20 money order and a personal 
note for the victims.

"I'm not working now, but I bought the little I could," she said. "America 
did a lot for me. I came here with my children after my husband abandoned 
us. And now, they all finished high school and two of them are in college. 
One just became a homeowner," she said.

Ministers and parishioners took turns proclaiming their solidarity and 
support.

"It really affected me physically and mentally," Jeanine Delice said of 
watching the images on television. "For one to go to work and die without 
having a chance to say goodbye to your family. It could have been me."

Father Roland Desormeaux of Our Lady of Perpetual Help said that 250 
parishioners showed up at the Haitian Catholic church in Delray Beach on 
Sept. 11 for an impromptu prayer meeting.

"We all feel how our sense of security was violated. We realized how 
vulnerable we are. That's why we ask God to keep us all safe and protect us 
from hatred."

Gerard Jean-Baptiste, a West Palm Beach Haitian-American doctor, said, 
"America is good to everybody, whether you live here or not.

"It's the only country in the world where someone might come poor and 
illiterate and die rich and educated."

Radio Amerique International got help with the event from Our Lady of 
Perpetual Help and several Protestant Haitian churches, including the 
Christian Light Restoration Center and Bethel Evangelical Baptist Church in 
Delray Beach.

Merle Augustin can be reached at maugustin@sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6522.
Copyright  2001, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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