The Boston Haitian Reporter was established in 2001. We celebrated our Tenth anniversary May 12, 2011. The paper is geared toward Haitians who have lived here for a long time, as well as second generation Haitian-Americans; for that reason, it is written in English.
We offer in-depth reporting of issues concerning the Haitian-American experience and what is happening in Haiti. As part of our 10 year anniversary, we are extremely pleased and excited to have established the first annual Boston Haitian Honors. We wanted to recognize and celebrate local pioneers for their work and great contribution to the community.
Honoring Our Pioneers
We are proud to honor the work and legacy of Reverend Verdieu Laroche. He was the founder of the First Haitian Baptist Church in all of Boston. Many other churches stemmed from that church. It was the place for Haitian newcomers to congregate and become part of a community. It did not matter if they were Baptist or even Christian. Reverend Laroche received them with open arms. The First Haitian Baptist Church was where Haitians could go to hear French and Haitian Creole spoken; they could find access to services and the community. It was home to many.
Another person who deserved great honor and recognition is the incomparable Dr. Marc Prou (UMass, Boston). He is well-known and respected for his work in the field of education. He is, of course, one of the pioneers who helped to bring about the ESL curriculum in Boston Public Schools. He is one of the founders of the Haitian Studies Association. His Haitian Creole Institute at UMass Boston is one of the most important and respected institutes of its kind in and outside of the country.
The third honoree was Dr. Nicole Prudent. She’s an MD at Boston Medical Center. She’s one of the first Haitian pioneers of health and sexual education. To reach as many people as possible, Dr. Prudent took her work to radio and television. She saved countless lives through this unprecedented approach to reach Haitians and teach them about awareness and prevention.
Special acknowledgements went to two deserving “fanm vanyan”: Madame Edna Etienne, owner of Le Foyer Bakery, is one of the first Haitian small business owners in Mattapan – the heart of the community. We honored her for her success as an entrepreneur and for her steadfast civic engagement. She’s always there to help a fellow Haitian. She has a charitable heart and demonstrates it by giving freely to those in need. She is known for supporting the community through her activism and financial resources. She’s always involved in the community.
We also had an opportunity to honor Dr. Carole M. Berotte Joseph: the first Haitian to lead an institution of higher education in all of the United States! We’re really very excited about that. Many individuals in the community came out to support and celebrate with us, including the only Haitian-American elected official in the state – Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry. We were lucky to have Dr. Paul Farmer of the Boston-based Partners in Health, as well. He is a great supporter of Haiti and the Boston Haitian Reporter.
Working for Reconstruction and the Listening Tour
The Boston Haitian Reporter continues to play a key role in reconstruction by keeping the local community informed through in-depth reporting. As you know, Haiti is no longer making headlines in the mainstream media. It is our job to continue informing the local public about what’s going on in Haiti and the reconstruction effort. We plan to use some of the resources from our tenth anniversary celebration to expand that reporting and have a freelancer in Haiti who is dedicated to doing in-depth reporting on the reconstruction, the hundreds of thousands internally displaced Haitians who are still living in tents, as well as women’s rights issues. We’re hoping that the resources we get will help us build more capacity for our reporting.
We are also part of this national initiative where several Haitian-Americans from different major hubs: New York, Boston, Miami, and DC are going to come together for a National Listening Tour. We kick off from Boston in June. We will go around those US cities to find out what are the major components or potential national policy advocacy agenda for the Haitian-American community so we can start to help build a foundation.
There are several other national initiatives happening to bring the Haitian Diaspora together on a national level, but the listening tour is the first of its kind. On a national level, we can bring different groups within the Haitian communities across the United States to start to help build policy. And over the next couple of years, we can have a more coordinated effort toward US and Haiti policy in general.
How We Can Support
No matter where you live in the United States, we can mail the paper to you. One of our favorite subscribers is award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat. She’s been receiving the paper since its inception. She loves our paper, and we love her.
If someone wants to contribute by writing a column, we’re looking for Haitians as well as allies who work in the Diaspora. You don’t have to be a famous author like Danticat or even live in this area to be a contributor. We are always interested in new voices.
And don’t forget to follow our Twitter Feed @BostonHaitian. Stay tuned about the listening tour. That’s an exciting initiative that we’re very proud of. We all agree that we need to be a collective community to advocate for better policies toward Haiti. Let’s get together and do just that.
Editor and Business Manager