... Local family helps victims of Haiti earthquake
An unusually remarkable woman has recently come into my life. She is one of the helpers that Mystic Valley Elder Services provides for me, since I am somewhat handicapped.
Her name is Marise Pierre. She grew up in Haiti, the oldest of her parents' six children. When Marise was 16 she came to this country to live. She stayed with an uncle in New York City, got a job and settled down to learn about life in the United States. At first she was employed as a babysitter; later she received special training and worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant.
Ten years after she arrived in New York, Marise traveled to Montreal to visit her aunt, her mother's sister. During her time there, her aunt threw a party with many people attending. One man named Joseph fell in love with Marise that night. It was “love at first sight” for him, but she didn't give him much encouragement. She returned to New York.
Meanwhile, back in Montreal, Joseph pestered Marise's aunt to give him her phone number or at least her address. One day somebody called Marise in New York on her telephone. When she asked, “Who is it?” he replied, “The man you met at the party in Montreal.” She said, “How did you get my phone number?” and he told her he got it from her family. He told her he lived in Boston, where he worked as an electrician.
They started dating, with Joseph traveling frequently to New York. When he asked Marise to marry him she replied, “Before I say yes to you, you have to go talk to my parents in Haiti.” He was so stricken with love that he went to Haiti. Her family said that if he'd traveled all the way from Boston to Haiti, they gave their consent.
Marise and Joseph were married in New York City on her birthday, December 17, 1990 and moved to the Boston area to live. When Marise was pregnant with their first child she watched many hours of the “I Love Lucy” show, a program she particularly enjoyed. She loved that show so much that she named their son Ricky.
A few years later Marise was pregnant again. After the ultrasound confirmed that she was carrying a girl, Joseph jokingly asked her if she would name this baby Lucy. But she didn't; instead she named their daughter Krista.
It was a successful, loving marriage. Sadly, in 2006, they learned that Joseph had leukemia. By this time, Ricky and Krista were in their early teens. Joseph had a serious talk with his son, saying, “Ricky, when I'm gone I want you to watch over your sister. Don't let her associate with any undesirable characters.” He died in 2007.
One of the pillars of Joseph and Marise's strong marriage was their membership in Malden's Seventh Day Adventist Church, 500 members strong. They spent every Saturday at the church, worshiping, singing, and breaking bread with their fellow congregants. It was a source of love and strength for the family, both before and since Joseph's death.
Then, on January 12, 2010 Haiti was struck by a devastating earthquake. Many (if not all) of the members of the Church had relatives in Haiti. The minister at the Malden church asked the members of the congregation to help their fellow Haitians in any way they could.
Many, many Church members responded. Marise and her children volunteered to open their home to a Haitian woman who needed assistance. Her name is Dieulane. She had had a husband and six children before the earthquake struck. On that fateful day her husband was killed and her youngest child, a baby boy, was terribly burned. Dieulane was able to leave the older five children with her mother in Haiti. Dieulane and baby Mickerson came to Massachusetts to live with Marise and her children.
Every week the church members are asked to provide money and food for the people of Haiti. Donations also make it possible for Dieulane to phone her mother once a week and to keep in touch with her older children.
Although Dieulane and Marise did not know each other before the earthquake, they have become good friends. Dieulane must be very grateful for her Haitian friends in the U.S. Her son is just about a year old now; he is receiving care for his burned body at the world-renowned Shriner's Hospital for Children in Boston. He has made friends with Marise's children, who love him like a baby brother.
I am impressed with this family's outpouring of love and help. There is always room in their hearts and their home for those in need. In marked contrast, The Boston Globe of Wednesday, September 29 painted a disturbing picture of aid promised and not delivered. “Nearly nine months after the earthquake, more than a million Haitians still live on the streets between piles of rubble.” The article goes on to demonstrate how much-needed aid has been sabotaged by bureaucracy.
Thinking about Marise and her family, one can hope that their actions are what religion is all about – or should be.
December 3, 2010