Monday, February 11, 2013

Surviving in The Bahamas: A Haitian Boy Strives for Brighter Future

Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas — The Abaco Boat Tragedy has attracted more headlines than the usual because this is a human smuggling story where many young children drowned.

As a Bahamian writer focused on the struggles of Caribbean people and their relationship to their neighbor to the north, the tragedy compelled me to action. I made my way to Treasure Cay, Bahamas to find Erode Joseph, a 19-year old survivor of the overcrowded boat “Glory Time” that sank.

The incident was reported like most of the human smuggling stories originating from the Bahamas: a grossly overcrowded boat of desperate Haitians embarks from a clandestine location hoping and praying they reach the shores of America for a better life. The boat capsizes and those who cannot swim drown. Bloated bodies are found in the waters, wrapped in body bags, and dragged to shore.The local clergy and politicians send condolences to the often unknown relatives, some of whom experience the additional agony of not being able to bury their loved ones because of fears of deportation.

The unidentified bodies are laid to rest in a mass burial ceremony. There are calls for stiffer penalties for human smuggling, but they fade out as the days and months go by without legitimate arrests.

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