Remebering Marie Chery, our beloved Country Director
A message from Dr. Barth A. Green:
It is with great sadness that we at Project Medishare report the tragic loss of our beloved Country Director, Marie Chery, BSN, RN on March 4, 2014. Marie passed away with acute meningitis just hours after arriving at the Jackson Memorial/University of Miami Medical Center from her Port-au-Prince, Haiti headquarters.
Marie’s destiny was tied to her country of birth and most of all to her mother who was the respected Director of Nursing at the State University Nursing School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Marie pursued her nursing education at City College of New York where she received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1977. She later moved to Miami and joined the University of Miami family in 1988. In her role as a clinic nurse, Marie was loved and respected by her patients and peers who enjoyed her intelligence, energy and dedication towards human service. She visited rural Haiti with a medical group from Project Medishare in 2000 and from that point on was committed to return to her homeland and make a difference.
In 2003, Marie was recruited by Dean Nena Peragallo to the faculty of the University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies with the assignment to strengthen Haiti’s nursing infrastructure through education and training programs. She shared her talents in a dual leadership role with the University of Miami Global Institute for Community Health and Development. Their trust and investment in Marie Chery proved to be invaluable as she rose through the ranks of Project Medishare and the Nursing School, culminating in her position as Country Director of all of the Project Medishare and nursing school’s programs in Haiti. These important roles required her moving back to Port-au-Prince where she was headquartered while she commuted back and forth to Miami in order to pursue her Certificate in Nursing Education, work on projects and teach University of Miami nursing students in Haiti. Marie’s love and passion for Haiti was focused on its most under-served citizens in the isolated Central Plateau. Starting in the town of Thomonde and expanding to Marmont and beyond, Marie created a momentum that ultimately involved responsibility for the healthcare of over 100,000 men, women and children from prenatal to geriatric care.
Among her other Central Plateau accomplishments were the construction and operation of the Max Nutritional Complex including an Akamil factory, which produces a food product to help combat malnourishment; the construction of Kay Pasha, an education and training center; the construction of the first maternal health center in rural Haiti; a new government community health clinic; and a chlorine factory to combat the ravages of the cholera epidemic. Marie also initiated amazing programs for orphans and vulnerable children and school health in an effort to increase the survival and well-being of the children of the Plateau and afford them opportunities similar to Haiti’s neighboring more developed nations. She also worked closely with Fonkoze, a microfinance organization providing hundreds of deserving loans especially to women of the Plateau, which provided not only funds but important mentoring as well. Her other projects involved women’s rights, agriculture, clean water and housing as part of her long list of advocacy.
The word hero is an understatement for this nurse, dynamic educator, healer and devotee to the principals of bottoms up community development.
Marie was known by every government official from the Presidents to the Cabinet Ministers to the farmers, priests and children. She was truly a symbol of integrity and courage and was recognized as someone who never backed down or gave an inch when “doing the right thing” was at stake. In addition to her tireless work on the ground in Haiti, Marie traveled around the world visiting the millennium villages in Africa and attending conferences across the US, Asia and Europe proudly representing Haiti, Project Medishare and the School of Nursing and Health Studies. Before the carnage of the 2010 earthquake, Marie organized a national effort bringing together the public and private healthcare sectors to plan a national critical care and trauma system. Shortly after that, she traveled with Project Medishare’s leadership to Washington D.C. to lobby for Haiti following the earthquake to ensure that funds designated for Haiti would reach the people and programs in need. She became well recognized by many US senators, congressmen and local and national leaders as a reliable and accurate voice of reason in a country where issues of crisis and survival often dominated the agenda.
Speaking for myself and Project Medishare, and for Dean Peragallo and the School of Nursing and Health Studies, we commit to you that we will honor the memory of our dearly loved Marie and will strengthen and expand our long-term commitment to the people of Haiti. Recognizing this culmination of a lifetime of selfless devotion should serve as an inspiration to all of us.
This week as we face her funeral service and burial in Miami we also look forward to a celebration of her life. Similar services and celebrations will be held at a later date in Port-au-Prince and the Central Plateau.
Visitation: Friday, March 14, 2014 from 6:00-10:00pm
Fred Hunter Funeral Home
2401 South University Drive, Davie, Florida 33324
Service: Saturday, March 15, 2014 at 10:00am
Holy Family Catholic Church
14500 NE 11 Avenue, Miami, Florida 33161
Life Celebration: Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 1:00-5:00pm
Center for Haitian Studies
8260 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33138