Maryse Dejean, Al Grandoit and Marc Bien-Aime are Haitian-Americans now living in New Orleans, but maintain a strong connection to their heritage and family still living in Haiti. They met through Haitian relief efforts, and in this April 11th conversation, they discuss their experiences in Haiti as children, as aid workers over the years, and their participation in relief efforts assembled after the January 2010 earthquake.
Maryse Dejean begins with her recollections about the problems Haiti was facing even before the quake. Marc Bien-Aime and Al Grandoit also share their observations about what still needs to be done. And they agree that their Hurricane Katrina experiences helped them understand the long-term challenges Haiti is still facing.
ALSO: In this extended conversation, Dejean and Bien-Aime, who came to the U.S. as children with their families, talk about escaping the poverty and political persecution of the Duvalier regime. Grandoit was born in the U.S. and grew up in the northeast. They all managed to keep close ties to their Haitian families and culture. In this conversation, they talk about their American experience and their having to flee Haiti.
StoryCorps New Orleans interviews were recorded by StoryCorps, a national project to record and collect stories of everyday people. This excerpt was selected and produced by WWNO producer Eileen Fleming, with support from the WWNO Productions Fund and from Villere & Co., managing the investments of New Orleans' families for almost 100 years. Listen again at wwno.org or at nola.com.