Marleine Bastien


Haitian Leaders

Date of Birth (DOB): 3/8/59
From: Haiti
Best Known for: Activist, social worker, songwriter, mother

Bio: Marleine Bastien was born the third of eight children in Petite Riviere de L 'Artibonite to Philippe Bastien and Angelina Destinoble. Her father, a rice and mango farmer also served as their villages resident physician applying self-taught medicine to treat the wounds and illnesses of the locals. Her father also built the first school in the vicinity and the oldest of his children would spend the 3 months of their summer vacations teaching there. Because of his social activism Bastien was often arrested and harassed by the government. Bastien would begin selling his land so that his children would be able to attend Catholic Schools. Marleine attended the esteemed Swiss school, College Bird in Port-Au-Prince. Tension in Haitis political climate during the 80s led her father to the United States where he eventually settled in Belle Glades, Florida. The family would eventually join him.

In 1981, at the age of 22 Marleine came to Miami to pursue a higher education. Her intention to study medicine or law was thwarted by a white Cuban advisor at Miami-Dade Community College (MDCC) who convinced her to pursue more realistic dreams and study to become an executive secretary. While reluctantly taking secretarial courses at MDCC, Marleine became involved in the Haitian communitys fight against the Duvalier dictatorship. In 1982 Bastien began working full-time as an interpreter and paralegal at the Haitian Refugee Center. She would accompany lawyers from the center to the Krome detention center, where thousands of Haitians refugees were held awaiting their immigration hearings.

After completing MDCC, Bastien earned her bachelors degree in social work from Florida International University (1986) and her masters the following year. While studying at FIU, she joined a dance/drama company Sosyete Koukouy (Firefly Society), led by Jan Mapou a well-known cultural Luminary. Marleine met Jean Desire, a poet and actor who joined the group in 1987. They married in February 1988 and have since had 3 sons.

Bastien juggles her job at Jackson Memorial Hospitals Sickle Cell Center with her role as president of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami (Haitian Women of Miami), a nonprofit she founded to advocate for womens rights and to work for the social, political, and economic empowerment of all women and girls, especially Haitian.

Bastien serves as not only the voice of Haitian women, but as unofficial spokesperson for the Haitian community in large rallying for its causes in the Nations capital and in speaking engagements, she is often quoted in local, national and international media such as the Oprah show, CNN, the BBC and others. As a writer Bastien, contributed a chapter to a social-work textbook, wrote a book in Creole about AIDS for the Red Cross, and a childrens book. On October 15th 2000, Bastien spoke in Washington at the historic World March of Women. On December 6th 2001, Ms. Magazine honored Marleine Bastien as a “Woman of the Year.”'s complete profile on Marleine Bastien
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