The Medford Haitian Oral History Project

Haitian Activist and Lawyer: Nunotte Zama

Nunotte Zama was born in the rural town of L'Asile in Haiti, and came to the United States to get her law degree at the University of Miami. In 2000 she moved to Melrose to raise her daughter and son.

Her legal offices are in downtown Boston, where she specializes in immigration law and the other legal issues faced by both immigrant and non-immigrant clients, such as real estate, family law, and dispute resoltion. She served as a legal consultant for the Consulate General of the Republic of Haiti and the Permanent Mission of Haiti to the Organization of American States, and for the past four years been an Assistant Professor in the Criminal Justice and Social Science programs at Roxbury Community College.

While her town of L'Asile was not directly affected by the 2010 earthquake, she lost several relatives in other parts of the country, and has been to the country a number of times since to help with recovery efforts. She has been critical of the relief efforts there.

"The people are so resilient," she told interviewer Sharon Kennedy. "Haitians have so much hope. They use hope and prayer to get up every morning. You can't keep them down. They are so resilient. They have faith and they have belief. They have to get up the next morning so they do. Do you know the suicide rate in Haiti is just about the lowest in the world? They do what they have to do. If there is a man who has a mango tree, he gathers all his mangoes and he goes to market. The mango tree -- that is all he has. He will sell those mangoes and he will feed his children the best he can.

"No one is watching out for the people now. There are hundreds of NGOs and the people working for them are driving around in fancy cars and they are building hotels with the money. The government is not watching out for the people. The NGOs are not watching out for the people. The Red Cross was given an enormous amount of money but the people didn't get that money. There is no accountability anywhere. They are making money on the backs of the poor people."

In several interviews in 2013, Nunotte had much to say about the beauty and traditions of her native land, as well as the generosity of her neighbors today.

The best pineapples… Folk remedies i n Haiti How to make Cassava bread Melrose helps L'Asile