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This Miami Life

Marleine Bastien: Helping And Hurting

Ruth Morris

The day after Haiti’s devastating quake I walked into Notre Dame D’Haiti church in Miami to find people singing hymns, their palms turned to the sky, their rosary beads swinging gently.  Some knelt, slouching over the pews in front of them, heads buried– a posture that suggested grief as much as prayer.

Little Haiti seemed to be moving in slow motion as people first grappled with the magnitude of the destruction in their homeland.

But up the road, community organizer Marleine Bastien was moving fast– ducking out of one emergency meeting and into another, fielding call after call, “helping and hurting,” she told me.

In the audio clip at the top of this post, Bastien, a founder of the Haitian-American Grassroots Coalition, speaks about how her training as a social worker kicks in during times of crisis.  And she describes how Haitians are coping.

“We go through a lot, but we will not be broken,” she says. “We will not be hopeless… That’s our story.”