Faith Helps Haitians in Miami Cope

Religion rises above rubble in Haiti and South Florida

By Adam Kuperstein and Brian Hamacher
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:12 AM EDT
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Miami Medic in Haiti

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 17: A man holds a Bible during Sunday mass in Miami's Little Haiti's Notre Dame D'Haiti Catholic church January 17, 2010 in Miami, Florida. Haitian immigrants and other members of the community filled the church in support of the thousands that may have been killed or injured after a powerful 7.0 earthquake reduced the island nation of Haiti to rubble. (Photo by Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

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Faith in Haiti

The Haitian people are known for their strong and are now finding strength in it more than ever.
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With their loved ones gone, their homes destroyed, religion still rises above the rubble for Haitians still there and in South Florida.

In their time of crisis, faith is keeping them strong.

"Praying together, it's a huge source of comfort for the Haitian population," said Haitian activist and radio host in Miami, Lucie Tondreau. "The people here who have not heard from their family members, they're turning to church, they're turning to God in order to pray and asking for deliverance."

That faith is what has helped many survivors who were buried under the rubble get through their ordeal.

Mireille Dittmer, the Pembroke Pines mother of two who was trapped in a supermarket for days, said her faith in God helped her get through several days of being trapped in the dark.

"I knew that something would happen because of my faith, Dittmer said. "I wasn't scared, it's really strange."

And for miracle man Dr. Jean-Maurice Duval, who nearly died after his house fell on him, it was divine intervention that helped him, he said.

"Every day I said, without God, nothing happens," said Duval.

The Haitian faith has been criticized, most notably by televangelist Pat Robertson, who blamed the earthquake on a long-standing pact with the devil.

"But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor," he said on his show.
 
As ridiculous as Robertson's comments were, some Haitians had been using the word "curse" to explain the earthquake.

"Some of the churches, the pastors are saying that also to the people, and as I told them, the God that I believe in is a God of love, he would never ever think of doing anything to punish any of his children," said Tondreau, host of Veye-yo on WNQY.

Tondreau points to the large percentage of Haitians who practice voodoo for this misconception.

"We are not cursed, we're just in the Caribbean and it happens, we had an earthquake," Tondreau said. "It is not psychologically proper for anybody to believe [for] one second that this is some type of punishment that we're getting."

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