Hey everybody! It’s Henrietta and Alex here 🙂
Today was Immigration Day and we learned about immigration between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. We started off the day at 7 am to travel to Batey Palave. A batey is where immigrants reside. Us Glimpsers partnered up with Ms. Silvia Viñals and her son, Ernesto who gave his presentation (that took place in the Colibri Center, an hour or so away from San Cristobal) in English which has been a first for us being here in the DR. They work for Imagine Santo Domingo which facilitates the preparation of 850 public school lunches daily out of the Colibri Center kitchen. In the presentation, we were informed about Ius Soli (right of the soil) meaning anyone born in the country’s soil gets citizenship and Ius Sanguinis (right of blood) is when citizenship is gained when parents are citizens; has nothing to do with where a person is born. After the presentation we were split into four different groups, each with a member of Imagine Santo Domingo. In those groups, we got a chance to listen to their immigration stories on how they or their families immigrated to DR. Some came illegally- the one we heard in particular was about an 18 year old male whose parents at the age of 13 and 16 walked through the haitian mountains to enter the DR. It took them 3-4 days. This route is dangerous, not all come out alive. Although his parents came illegally, when he was born in the DR, he automatically became a Dominican citizen because of Ius soli.

Afterwards, we split into two groups and took a tour around the batey. In that tour we saw the one and only clinic that provided basic assistance. The nearest emergency clinic is 30 minutes away and we were told that those who are severly ill usually don’t have enough time to make it that far. During the tour, we also learned about how Haitians would be sent to the DR to work on sugar cane farms. We were told that the workers were mistreated and given horrible living conditions. For example, a family of 10 were given a boxed room as a house with no kitchen, bathroom, or running water. Because of this, they built their own restrooms outdoor of which had no water as well. We were gifted to speak to an 83 year old man who worked on the sugar cane farm since he was 7 and stopped working around 1998. Through the remainder of the tour, we witnessed and learned more about how modern day people are living. We also learned more about the education system and how school hours only last 4 hours a day. Most times after the 8th grade, undocumented residents are unable to further their education. On another note, it was surprising to see mansions in a community filled with deteriorated homes. However, when lunch came around, we ate a common Haitian plate full of white rice, black beans, fish dumplings, ground beef, vegetables, and a piece of Arepitas.

Right after we ate, we danced bachata and then left to the Colibri Center to finish our last activity which was a Yes/No Movement activity. Flora and Brayan would announce statements based on immigration identity. Soon after, we traveled to Sol Naciente where we proposed our ideas and plans to the community and received feedback. It came to our attention that our plans weren’t able to go through and we came up with new project ideas. We decided that we were going to repaint parts of the bleachers and write the motivational quotes on top of it. Also, we would be adding more concrete to the room under the bleachers that was used for people who would have nowhere to go. Lastly, we ended our day by eating some hotdogs and tacos, and dancing some more. This is our day, we all cannot wait to come home!
P.S. we saw a big tarantula!!

“Hey guys! Our next Free Day is coming up and I cannot wait to talk to you guys. Four days left and I can come home. Love and miss you guys! Bye!” ~Henrietta Fonua
“Hi! I SO CANNOT WAIT TO GET BACK TO THE BAY! I miss everyone and everything so much :'( Hi mom, love you” -Alex Suarez
“Me too. I wanna come home!!!”~Henrietta Fonua <3