Sunday, July 09, 2006

Haitians seek hope in new home

An interesting story about Haitian immigrants quietly assimilating into American culture. They insist their children get a good education so they never have to experience the poverty their parents lived through. DP

By Joan D. Laguardia

The News-Press: Inside Mission Supermarket near downtown Fort Myers, Haitian women look over oxtail or conch for the evening meal.

South on Fowler Street, men in dark dress pants and bright, white starched shirts slip away from their offices and head for a nearby Haitian restaurant.

In the surrounding neighborhoods, children move easily from English to Creole as they dash by gardens of sugar cane and papaya to tell grandmothers they’re off to play with friends.

“It seems like a lot of Haitians are leaving Miami and moving here. On a daily basis I meet someone who is starting a business or buying a house,” said Pierre Abelard, general manager of Radio Independence, a Creole-language station that reaches about 10,000 listeners.

“Miami is over full, and they feel it is safer to raise their kids here, and it is easier to get a job here,” he said.

In Fort Myers, Immokalee and Golden Gate, an estimated 40,000 Haitians thrive in lively ethnic neighborhoods that echo the beginnings of Little Italy in New York or Chinatown in San Francisco.

However, few people probably notice the heart of Lee County’s Haitian community as they drive through it to downtown Fort Myers.

Most Haitian Americans live in quiet assimilation, learning English, taking full advantage of higher education and buying homes as soon as possible.

Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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