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Creole manual to better serve Haitian community

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There is nothing more frustrating than opening up a brand new toy or gadget, finding the instructions to only not understand the language they are written in.

Language is a powerful tool; a necessity in many respects to make informed decisions.

To ensure that the Haitian community is armed with resources they can understand, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has taken it upon himself to release the first Haitian Creole edition of the Immigrant Rights and Services manual.

“I am thrilled that the Haitian Creole-speaking community will now have its own edition of my ‘Immigration Rights and Services Manual,’” Comptroller Stringer said in a press release. “All New Yorkers must have the tools they need to succeed in our city, and this guide is an important resource for our newest residents, providing essential health, legal, social, and education information for all five boroughs. New York has welcomed and celebrated immigrant diversity for more than 100 years, and this manual is an important part of that tradition.”

Hosting a press conference in front of the Flatbush Caton Market, located on Flatbush Avenue between Caton and Lenox avenues, Comptroller Stringer was joined by Haitian Council Member Mathieu Eugene and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Monday, Aug. 10. The Haitian American Caucus’ founder Sam Pierre, Caribbean American Chamber and Commerce Inc.’s treasurer, Balfour Peart and other representatives also joined Stringer during the manual release event.

The 70-page manual, which has now been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian and Spanish, allows for immigrants to be made aware of public benefits, voting and civic participation and other government resources that could be difficult to understand if English is not the native language.

“Haitian Americans in the creole community didn’t just arrive here, they built this city. They are at the heart of the economic engine that makes it possible for everybody to succeed,” Stringer said. “To succeed, you need the tools and in a city this big information is power. That’s why this manual offers a roadmap to health, legal and education services in all five boroughs.”

Described as an ally by both Assembly Woman Bichotte and Council Member Eugene, both are excited to have a manual like this to better assist a large number of their constituents.

“Thank you so much Comptroller Scott Stringer for introducing such an important matter to the community,” Assembly Member Bichotte said. “I’m really honored to be working with Comptroller Scott Stringer who has been a friend not only to me but particularly for the Haitian community. He has recognized many of the contributions that members of the Haitian community have contributed to New York and thus he has also have elected to appoint people of his office who are Haitian Creole speaking like Camille Joseph. With this manual they can read it in their language Creole and English and I am so excited.”

“It is a pleasure for me to stand with the comptroller at the Caton Market, the very place that was created for Haitian people who were selling their stuff in the street. New york City is home to so many Haitians and so many immigrants it makes sense that we in government help immigrant people overcome their challenges. One of the biggest challenges of immigrant people is the language. There are so many resources in New York but they cannot take advantage because of the language barrier,” Council Member Eugene added.

At the end of the press conference, Stringer distributed the manual to a few of the Flatbush Caton Market vendors. Available in print and online, Stringer hopes to work with various community outreach programs to ensure immigrants are armed with their own copies.

“As a student leader at CUNY, the most diverse institution of higher learning in the United States, I am excited to hear that Haitian-American community will have access to the Comptroller Stringer’s Immigration Rights and Services Manual,” Emelyn Fernandez, CUNY University student senate vice chair for International Student Affairs, said in a press release. “I plan to share the information with the Haitian student organizations around the university. And I am sure they will be equally excited to receive the news. Equal access to education and the city resources is the first step towards the socioeconomic growth of our immigrant communities.”

For more information about the “Immigrant Rights and Services Manual,” visit www.comptroller.nyc.gov.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aolivier@cnglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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