Church of St. Pierre in Baradères, Haiti

St. Pierre parish, Baradères, Haiti — sister parish of St. John the Baptist Catholic Community, Silver Spring, Md. 

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Haiti: Giving Hope a Second Chance
Photographs and Text by Donna DeCesare. Published in The APF Reporter, Vol.19 #3.

NOTE: Posting of this story at this web site,, is by permission of The Alicia Patterson Foundation.

“You’d always know in the pen when somebody got the L note [A life sentence]. It’s the one time a man can cry in prison. Being sent back to Haiti… it’s like being buried alive.”—Touchè Caman, U.S. deportee and organizer for Chans Altenativ

Port-au-Prince, Haiti—On the second day of his homecoming—after living eleven years in the United States—twenty-two-year old Patrick Etienne is overcome with emotion. The silent rivulets streaking his cheeks and staining his pristine white tee shirt are not tears of joy.

Along with 36 other criminal deportees, he was escorted by U.S. Federal Marshals onto a special plane and released into the hands of CIMO, the paramilitary anti-riot squad of the Haitian National Police. Patrick doesn’t yell—as several of his cell mates do—about his rights or the unsanitary and primitive toilet facilities here at the Haitian National Penitentiary where the group are being held. “Just wait till they get outside,” he utters in a barely audible whisper.

As Patrick describes the incident that has landed him back in Haiti—injury he caused another motorist when, without a driver’s license, he took his mother’s car for a spin—anguish is visible in his young eyes. He doesn’t know if he will see his parents and siblings or the modest comforts of their Miami home again. Patrick recalls from childhood memory the destitution in which his extended family live—nearly a day’s journey over the crater-pocked road to Cap Haitien.


Touchè Caman was five years old when he left Haiti for Stamford, Connecticut. No angel, he spent 3 1/2 years in U.S. prison before being deported to Haiti five years ago.

He is a founding member of Chans Altenativ--a program which helps deportees who spent most of their formative years in the U.S. adjust to life in Haiti. Lost in his own thoughts, Caman stands outside the single room home in the La Saline slum where he lives with his girlfriend Alud and their two children.

The water line, near the doorway where Alud talks with neighborhood children, shows how high the rivers rise carrying debris and disease through the streets each time it rains.

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