Although we derive from a variety of cultures and socioeconomics, our group united in our horror at the conditions  we witnessed in the Haitian barrio. Despite our low energy levels in the morning, the friendly and embracing attitudes of the Haitian immigrants that greeted us lifted our spirits. Today, we witnessed a side of the Dominican Republic that opened our eyes to the unimaginable poverty and social discrimination of Haitian immigrants in this country.

The community of Colonia Kennedy shared their homes, hearts, and life stories with us. Hearing about their current situations and the loss of hope for a better future deeply saddened us. Every day the immigrants experience heavy discrimination, including unfair wages, poor living conditions, and segregation from the Dominican citizens. In fact, the government of Dominican Republic established a law in 2013 that stripped Haitian immigrants of their citizenship dating back to 1929. Additionally, this rule prevents people of Haitian ancestry born in the DR from receiving a citizenship from their homeland. However, these issues have not completely deteriorated the community’s lively spirit and tradition, as seen by the fun dancing session we all had.

We also heard from a different perspective on what it means an immigrant in the Dominican Republic: the story of Michel, a Venezuelan immigrant. Moving away from the political turmoil in her home country, Michel created a better life in Constanza as she worked hard to support her family. In addition to sharing her life story, she took the time to help us make bracelets and talk to us. With her yellow, blue, and red bands, Michel embraces her Venezuelan roots and shares her cultural heritage with those around her.

This experience inspired our group to make an effort to take action on aiding the poor Haitian immigrant community. We held an amazing nightly meeting filled with great ideas and plans for the future. Together, we reflected on what we experienced today and united on the fact that change is needed. The world has not seen the last of Constanza C2B.