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a647: Haitians Buried at Nassau's Cowpen Cemetary (fwd)

From: Daniel Schweissing <dan_schweissing@hotmail.com>

National News
Haitian burial

Released Saturday, February 2, 2002 at 10:02 am EST by Lindsay Thompson

Haitians buried at Cowpen cemetery

Were among a group of 93 who fled their unstable homeland

By Lindsay Thompson

Guardian Senior Reporter

The 14 illegal Haitians who died last week in Bahamian waters in search for
better livelihood were hailed as heroes, during a funeral service Friday at
the Cowpen Road Cemetery.

A small gathering of mourners, led by Haitian Charge 'd Affaires Joseph
Etienne thanked The Bahamas for its support of the Haitians fleeing the
politically unstable island republic by the hundreds.

"We would like to say how grateful we are to the Bahamian government and the
people of The Bahamas for the hospitality they have provide to Haitians,
especially now that we have a mass influx of Haitians coming here," Etienne

However, many of them die even before they reach the "land of opportunity".
They risk their lives on the treacherous seas in unseaworthy vessel.

"They are coming here because of the social and economic conditions in
Haiti," Etienne said.

At the cemetery, 13 bodies were laid out, side-by-side, in wooden flat top
caskets - blue ones held six men and the pink ones, five women; the 14th
Haitian will be buried today.

A picture of each deceased was taped atop the caskets, but only the men's
coffins were labelled with their names scribbled in pen. Etienne led the
mourners in placing blue and pink carnations on each grave.

"We are here to bury the sons and daughters of Haiti who, in search of life
have lost their lives," Etienne said. "In such a tragic event, we can only
implore the Almighty God asking him in his wisdom, compassion and love to
welcome to his kingdom, those Haitians - men and women - who lost their
lives. May they rest in peace.

The deceased were among a group of 93 picked up last week, when, during
their capture and rescue from the sunken sloop, four other Haitian women

A day later, Defence Force divers retrieved the bodies of ten more Haitians
- seven males and three females who were apparently trapped in the sunken

The bodies were prepared by morticians of Commonwealth Funeral Home, its
director Matthew Sweeting said the corpses were prepared with contact
embalming fluid and put in white plastic bags before being placed in the
coffins, which were not opened during the ceremony.

It was a somewhat traditional service with the singing of funeral hymns and
scripture reading. Reflections were said by Pastor Edward St. Fleur of the
Francophone Seventh Day Adventist. There was the occasional outcry by Bernze
Celver, sister of Sasla Celver, a mother of one who left her child in Haiti.
Celver and her brother Mac Celver via an interpreter, expressed sorrow over
the loss of their sibling.

In his brief eulogy, Rev. Dr. Cherelus Exante, president of the New Haitian
Mission Baptist Church of Churches said that it was a sad situation having
to bury his Haitian fellowmen under such circumstances.

"But, God is always on our side," he said. "When I think, God will give us
the strength to face the kind of foolishness in society. God is good."

Rev. Exante was optimistic that one day, Haiti would be delivered from its
impoverished state and Haitians would be able to work and live in their own

Referring to the deceased he said, "One day, they will receive their call
from the Lord. One day, they will receive their reward from the Lord."

The service ended with the singing of Haiti's National Anthem, before the
Rev. commended the bodies into the ground with the final words, "Ashes to
Ashes. Dust to Dust."

Copyright (c) 2001 by Nassau Guardian

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