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Marie Aline Gay

Born in Morvan, Jérémie, Haiti, Marie Aline Gay, aka, “Soeur Yvon,” or “Manman” as she was affectionately known, was above all things, a woman of great character and tremendous faith. While she was both gentle and humble, she had a significant and life-changing impact on her family, friends, church, community, and the people of her beloved native land — Haiti.

Manman was the love of God personified as she worked tirelessly to instill love, peace, hope, and possibility; while demonstrating incredible acts of kindness and service. Her heart for Haiti was continuously revealed through missions and advocating for improved quality of life.

As a servant leader and a deaconess in the church, Manman modeled the way by staying grounded in her faith and serving at church. It wasn’t uncommon for her to attend multiple church services on a Sunday, go back that night for a church revival, attend bible study on Wednesday, choir rehearsal on Thursday, mountain top prayer on Saturday, sprinkled with home visits throughout the week to do more – you guessed it – praying. For her, just going to church and going home wasn’t enough. She needed to see her community and touch them with a reassuring word from God. “La priyè se zam mwen et fòs mwen! -prayer is my weapon and my strength,” as she would often say.

Another way Manman modeled the way was through outreach ministry. She often raised funds, collected food, hygiene products, clothes, shoes — any tangible resource she had — to bless those in Haiti as well as those in the states because she believed in serving God through giving. However, while Manman was great at feeding the soul, she was also known for making a good meal to feed those who just needed a little bit of maternal love and bite to eat to replenish the soul. All were welcomed in her home.

As a woman of character, Manman was courageous enough to challenge the process. For her, that meant she always worked hard to be moral and ethical through Christian principals. While others might have tried to take the easier route, she did everything in love, with a fear of and reverence for God, yet without judgment. She stood her ground in some difficult times, she believed in right and wrong and advocated for those who felt helpless, hopeless, and powerless. When others felt like giving up, thinking that their circumstances wouldn’t change, she was there to remind them of the importance of staying faithful, steadfast, and unwavering.

Lastly, Manman encouraged the Heart. No matter the trials and tribulations, she always believed that, with prayer, things could be better and that her people, the Haitian community, deserved better. For Manman, it was all about leaving an indelible impression on her community — one individual, family, and the community at a time.

On October 26, 2019, exactly two months before her 87th birthday, Manman passed away after several months of acute illness due to cancer-related complications. Undoubtedly, Manman’s passing left an incredible void in the world. However, her legacy and principles – hope and possibility, friendship and community, modeling the way, challenging the process, and encouraging the heart – will carry on through the people she touched and lives she has changed. The Marie Aline Gay Heart for Haiti Foundation, Manman’s namesake, was established in the summer of 2020 to honor her memory and extend her light and legacy of servant leadership in the Haitian community.

Manman’s story
Manman’s story

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