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Murder of Rennette Emile sparks community activism, outrage

caines | 4/26/2012, 5 a.m.

It was a tragedy that resonated across the Caribbean Sea, leading those who hail from the tiny island of Haiti to ask, "How could something this terrible happen? What is going on in Miami?" What can we do to prevent similar tragedies? The incident that has caused many Haitians here in Miami and abroad left in astonishment is the recent murder of Rennette Emile, 35 of N. Miami Beach who was stabbed to death by her 16-year-old son, Kit Darrant. And it has led Haitians in Miami, like Karyne Sylvestre Pompilus, founder and CEO of Actions For Better Future, Inc., to seek ways to help other families that may be in trouble. "People are astonished because this is not our culture," said Camille Merilus, president and executive director of the Camille and Sulette Merilus Foundation for Haiti Development. Both Miami-based organizations that predominantly serve the Haitian community have gone on the offensive. During a recent press conference at the Hope Church of the Nazarene, the two organizations issued an open plea to the Miami-Dade community at-large to help them develop after school programs, mentoring, counseling and guidance targeting young children of Haitian descent. "The Haitian community is traditionally forgotten and underserved here in Miami-Dade County," Pompilus said. "The number of delinquents in our community continues to grow due to gangs and there are no after-school activities for them. But you don't have to be Haitian to be affected by crime no one is safe. If we wait for others to help this community, theres no telling how many kids will be lost."

Funding remains a major problem

Merilus says his foundation currently receives $8,925 annually from Miami-Dade County. And while he is grateful, he says it simply isnt enough to fund the planned construction of a community center or the hiring of staff for tutoring, mentoring and counseling. He has spoken to Dan Ward, director of the Countys grants coordination department, but with recent budget cuts, an increase in funding does not appear to be likely. Pompilus's program currently receives no government funding and all services are provided by her, free of charge, using her own resources. In regards to the murder of the young mother by her son, Merilus said, A mother is supposed to guide us through life and a son is supposed to have respect for his mother. Tragedies like this are just unimaginable. For more information, call Merilus at 786-536-2571. By Gregory WrightMiami Times writer g.w.wright@hotmail.com