Trè Bon Gou: Lessons in Creole

The NJFON board of directors gathered in Miami, Fla., this past month for its quarterly meeting.  While there, members were able to get out of the boardroom and spend an afternoon visiting and volunteering at the JFON clinic in Homestead.  The clinic, operated by South Florida JFON, opened last fall at the Redland Community United Methodist Church.

SoFla JFON Migrant workersThis is not the South Florida known to most tourists. There are no beaches, nightclubs, or pricey hotels. Barely 40 miles south of Miami, yet a world apart, Homestead is an immigrant-rich community surrounded by fields and farms that rely heavily upon the labor of migrant workers.

Board members worked alongside volunteers to conduct intake interviews of several new clients, including an unaccompanied migrant child, a victim of domestic violence, and a man seeking to bring his mother to the U.S. The clients came from Haiti, Honduras, and Guatemala, and all of them will be fully represented by JFON in the weeks ahead. JFON will work to ensure that they may remain in this country, obtain work permits, and be united with family members.

Haitian child waiting to be airlifted to South Florida after the devastating 2010 earthquake.
Haitian child waiting to be airlifted to South Florida after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Board member Kim Clarke, an immigration attorney in Michigan, said of her intake experience, “It was a very unusual and difficult case, but the client received the expertise of three immigration attorneys to analyze various options and strategies. The strength of the JFON network was evidenced through the services provided to her and the other clients served that night.”

For the Rev. Daniel Flores, another board member, the experience highlighted the advantages of faith-based legal services. “There is a value-added dimension that comes from meeting in an office that is tandem to sacred space,” he reflected. “The loving atmosphere encourages clients to put their trust in God, who will surely never abandon them. I am grateful for the witness of JFON and their local host partners who faithfully demonstrate God’s love.”

The majority of clients served by the Homestead clinic come from Haiti, and a Haitian parishioner from a nearby Haitian UMC church prepared a feast of Haitian staples for everybody—rice and beans, ox-tail, spicy cabbage, chicken, salad, and Haitian mac and cheese.

Mural in Little Haiti, Miami
Mural in Little Haiti, Miami

It was trè bon gou (very delicious) and a perfect way for the clients, volunteers, staff, and board members to end their time together.



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