School teacher Darlene Derosier lost her home in the 2010 earthquake that devastated her country. Her husband died a month later after suffering what she said was emotional trauma from the quake. She and her two daughters now live in tents outside the capital of Port-au-Prince, surrounded by thousands of others made homeless and desperate by the disaster.
What’s helped pull her through all the grief, she said, has been her faith, but not of the Catholic, Protestant or even Voodoo variety that have predominated in this island country. Instead, she’s converted to a new religion here, Islam, and built a small neighborhood mosque out of cinderblocks and plywood, where some 60 Muslims pray daily.
Islam has won a growing number of followers in this impoverished country, especially after the catastrophe two years ago that killed some 300,000 people and left millions more homeless. A capital where church attendance is so prevalent that the streets echo with Christian hymns on Sundays now has at least five mosques, a Muslim parliament member and a nightly local television program devoted to Islam.