CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — Gina Severe and her five children's dreams of a better life are now in the hands of her younger brother, two months after her husband drowned off the Turks and Caicos Islands on a risky voyage from Haiti.
Severe fully expects her brother to attempt to leave, too.
"The country doesn't offer you anything," Severe said, tears trickling down her face. "Things are not getting better."
Severe's view is shared by many here, fueling an increase in the number of Haitians who have boarded dangerously flawed and overcrowded boats for the perilous journey out of the country.
In one such journey nine weeks ago, Severe's husband, Anold Jacques-Magloire, was among 61 Haitians whose bodies were recovered in the shark-infested sea near Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos.
"People have problems, they have difficulty," said Severe's brother, Jocenel St. Ange, 25, who is unemployed. "That is why they are taking boats - to find a better life."
Although the tragedy provoked an outpouring of grief among Haitians, and for a few weeks halted the deadly clandestine voyages, they later resumed. Turks and Caicos officials say that three weeks later, they repatriated 37 Haitian migrants after a boat attempted to land on May 28 in the British dependent territory, 150 miles from Haiti's northern coast.
The U.S. Coast Guard also intercepted and returned 50 Haitians in June. So far this year, the U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted 1,221 Haitian migrants, more than the 1,198 for all of last year.
Florence Joachin, 25, didn't tell her mother that she was heading to Providenciales when she asked to borrow $285. Clairecida Osias recalls her daughter saying only that she was "leaving in search of a life."
"I thought she was headed to Port-au-Prince," Osias said. "What was I to do? When you have a child who is trying to help you even though she has her own two children to take care of, and she said she wants to go in search of a life, you are resigned to help her."
Osias learned the truth when someone brought Joachin's crumpled passport to the house and asked if the photo was of her daughter.
As she recalled the moment, she stared at the mass grave, her eyes surveying the tiny white wooden crosses standing atop the white slab. Osias' days are now consumed with grief and worry over food and money.
"There is no money, no work," Osias said. "Things are worse now."
An expectant father, Antoine Jean-Baptiste, and his two best friends were among the 78 survivors who managed to stay alive by stripping naked to prevent others from pulling them under.
The three, like other survivors, accuse the Turks and Caicos police patrol of ramming the wooden boat at least twice before towing it from shallow water and into the deep just as they were preparing to disembark.
The British government has launched an investigation into the allegations and the accident, and is expected to issue a report next month.
"Just look at the miserable conditions in which people here are living," Jean-Baptiste said, walking through a neighborhood of rundown and unfinished houses with overgrown weeds and debris on the outskirts of Cap-Haitien.
It was the second time that Jean-Baptiste had tried to make it into Turks and Caicos, where he hoped to find work as a plumber. He doesn't rule out trying again.
"The way it works here, you cannot work for a certain rate," he said. "If you find something but don't do it, someone else will jump at the chance. That is why the minute you find something, you have to jump at the chance."
Some, however, don't get that luxury. They go months and even years without work despite their skills, said Vilsaint Dorvilien, 31, noting that many of the men aboard the boat were laborers seeking jobs in Turks and Caicos' building boom.
Dorvilien, who can barely afford the one-room shack he shares with five others, including his wife and two children, said he sold two goats and borrowed the rest of the money he needed from his father and brother to make the ill-fated trip. He said he paid $333.
"You wake up each day looking at the telephone, hoping someone will call, or you go from job to job hoping to find something," Dorvilien said, describing his daily routine. "I'm sitting here now, not doing anything. I want to work."