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9854: A `Woman of the Year' (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

A `Woman of the Year'
Ms. magazine honors prominent Haitian-American advocate

Marleine Bastien, one of South Florida's most visible Haitian-American 
advocates, will be honored Thursday in New York by Ms. magazine as a ``Woman 
of the Year.''

Bastien, the founder and executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, has 
spent the past 18 months encouraging her community to vote in the 
presidential election, pushing for an accurate count in the U.S. Census, and 
matching up local families with Haitian refugees trying to make it to South 
Florida's shores.

``We've been closely watching the twists and turns of the presidential 
election,'' said Ms. editor-in-chief Marcia Gillespie. ``Time and again, 
when we started making phone calls, Marleine's name kept turning up.

``Here's a person who came to this country and embraced the spirit of what a 
democracy should be.''

Bastien, a longtime advocate of women's rights, now can place her name 
alongside Jane Fonda, Venus and Serena Williams, and Yoko Ono, all honored 
with her this year. The magazine started the award 20 years ago.

Congratulatory notes to Bastien have poured in all week from the Haitian 
community. One group of supporters even plans to attend the Thursday event.

Bastien, busy Tuesday trying to help the 185 refugees towed to shore from 
Biscayne Bay, was clearly honored, and surprised by her nomination.

``I am still in shock. I am overwhelmed, especially the calls, cheers. I am 
trying to process the whole thing, what it means for FANM and the Haitian 
women -- all women,'' she said. FANM is Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami Inc., or 
Haitian Women of Miami, the group she founded and directs.

``Oh my God, this is like one step further to our work. For every young 
Haitian-American woman coming up, it's something to look forward to, to be a 
voice,'' said Bastien.

Herald staff writer Jacqueline Charles contributed to this story.

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