Today was our Poverty and Global Business day. With only four days left, Andrea and I led the group through an intense day that consisted of visiting the bateys (living community for low wage workers) and the sugar company the braceros work for. Our wake up call today was at 6:00 am and it didn’t go unnoticed as we traveled to the bateys on Christian’s guagua(bus). As we arrived to the Plataforma Vida Association, we met up with many of the community members of the batey including the director Mercedes Feliz and Ramon Batista to name a few. They talked about the working conditions of the sugar cane workers before and now. After asking more questions about their experiences in the bateys, we separated into different groups during lunch time in order to get to know the people better. As lunch went on I saw that Jeff was very happy as he talked with Barba who is Haitian and was having a conversation in French about colonialism (Jeff is a current French teacher). After lunch we said our thanks and headed on to the Sugar Cane company were the people from the bateys work from November to July. The thing we didn’t realize was that what we were being told by the community members about the work was completely different from what we were going to hear from the sugar cane company, such as on topics of medical assistance and the working conditions. For instance, there was one previous sugar cane worker who went blind on the job when he was burning the field after cutting the cane. He stated that he just felt his eyes burn from the smoke-he never got any money or help fro the sugar cane company, and never worked again. Situations like the one mentioned happen often, and the workers usually compromise with a small amount of money with the companies because of their need of finance.
On the tour of the batey we also saw the people of the batey community, where they have no running water in their community and live out of the small money they gain from selling milk and cheese from the goats they raise. Be that as it may, the living conditions that these people live in isn’t what I will remember, but more the people and their warm personalities and hearts towards us. These people remind me that the quality of life isn’t measured by what you own but what you give to people, and that is love.
I feel blessed for having the opportunity to see this community and the the background of where my sugar comes from, especially from the hands of those who are not heard, Haitian immigrants. I read your comment Mami, it sounds great to hear from you and tell Val and Mo that I miss them very much. 😊😊😊
From Sabrina: Hola mama, papa, Alam, y Totem. Los extraño mucho, pero no se preocupen porque me estoy divertiendo mucho. See ya in four days with presents and many memories that I am excited to share with you and my friends.