Today, we had a very packed schedule. Even though we had a chance to sleep in, the day was very eventful. In the morning we had a speaker, Ostave Alix, and he is an immigrant from Haiti now living in the Dominican Republic. We watched a semi-fictional presentation about the life of a Haitian immigrant leaving his home country to work in the Dominican Republic. He struggled with hard labor, prejudice and disease. After the video, we asked Ostave about what we saw in the film along with questions about his own life. Ostave came to the DR two years ago without his family and without documents. He now has his documents and family living with him in Constanza. A few things that really stood out to us was how poorly Haitian immigrants were treated in the DR. Even though the careers and job opportunities are better in the DR, the school system is better in Haiti and Ostave did not want his daughter to attend the schools here. Also, Ostave enjoys learning, he knows four languages and still plans on learning a great deal more.
After another amazing lunch at Dilenia’s hotel, we went to Colonia Kennedy which is where Ostave lives with his family. In our group, we talked with a man named Luis and one thing that really stuck out to us was that he wanted to know why Dominicans treated him and his people so poorly while foreigners treated them with the respect that they deserved. Luis works as a security guard at night, earning more than he would working in Haiti. However, he said he would prefer to live in Haiti because there he is treated as an equal.
After coming back from Colonia Kennedy, we had four community members who gave us their opinions on our Community Action Project (CAP). We planned to build a small park behind the school of our community; it went very smoothly, even with having multiple presenters speaking in Spanish without being fluent in the language. We achieved our biggest goal, having the park open every day for the children to use. The community also liked the idea of building a fence around the area, which keeps children out of the street and river. The fence is our first priority. Now, we have a clearer idea of what the processes will be like for completing our CAP.
To end our day, we had an exciting birthday celebration for Ethan, Robin and Camilo (our site manager). A few days ago we put together little clips of us wishing them a happy birthday. We all had a great time laughing and popping balloons.
P.S. A balloon just popped.