Hello everyone! Yazmin and Joselyn writing here!

Today we started with an early 6AM wake-up, breakfast, and a three-hour bus ride to Juan Dolio filled with music and lots of fun! Initially, a three-hour bus ride didn’t seem worth it, until we reached the villa where we would stay for the night. It was unlike anything we have been able to experience before, from multiple rooms to a large-sized meeting room (with chairs!), to a pool in the back of the villa. Let’s just say that was the energy boost we needed.

Shortly after we got accustomed to our temporary living arrangement, we made our way to the bus to head to Ascala. Ascala is an organization that helps migrant workers become legal citizens and get access to basic human rights. In the DR (Dominican Republic), this refers mainly to Haitian migrants. Once there, we sat and had a talk with a woman who was born in a batey (sugar cane fields) community. She was assisted by an organization like Ascala and was able to receive a degree, become a lawyer, and be a help to Haitian people who are trying to obtain legal citizenship in either DR or Haiti. She also helped Haitian women trying to get out of domestic violence situations, as well as provide education to migrant Haitian children. From an international point of view, people of color have a harder time obtaining citizenship in a slew of countries such as Colombia, where Venezuelan refugees are prioritized over citizens or residents that are people of color. We also learned that in DR, Venezuelan refugees receive more access to citizenship’s than Haitian immigrants simply because of skin color. In the process of learning the hardships of immigrant workers, we got a glimpse of the sugar cane fields where the workers resided for most of their day. The passion the women who work at this organization have to help others is inspiring.

Afterwards, we headed to see a batey ourselves. In reaching the sugar cane fields, it was visibly obvious how large they were and how many workers were employed at the fields. We had the privilege of talking to a batey mayor, Domingo, who gave us insight on what it’s like to work on a sugar cane field. He even allowed us to utilize a machete (under intense adult supervision, of course) to try cutting a sugar cane stalk in order to understand what everyday work looks like for Haitian workers. Unfortunately, we learned throughout our conversation how unfair the work is. One ton of sugar cane equals to about 125 Dominican pesos, and it takes about four people to cut ten tons a day. Therefore, a total of about six American dollars gets distributed a day, per worker. It’s a very sad reality, but a reality nonetheless.

After an interesting conversation with the immigrant workers, all of us decided to work on our CAP (Community Action Project) project, which details our three day plan to bring a sustainable service to a community. Our delegation decided on creating a mural that details the process of growing a fruit or vegetable in all its stages and rebuilding the greenhouse in the school’s garden at Rio Grande. We split into two groups, each dedicated to working on the mural or greenhouse. Our presentation speech is translated and ready to be presented/proposed to the Rio Grande community members involved in the CAP project. Everyone’s hoping that the project will turn out great, and most importantly, be sustainable.

We proceeded to have a very taco-esque dinner, and then had a great time at the pool where we splashed around, enjoyed the hot tub, and did lots of swimming. We tried to make the best of our time by using the pool space by having a couple of chicken fights, pool racing, and some mini swimming classes for those who didn’t know how to. Whether you wanted to splash other people in the pool or just chill in the hot tub there was fun for everyone! We’re sure Ethan and Eugene will keep the fun going tomorrow during fun day!

Big love, Yazmin and Joselyn <3

Yazmin shout outs: Mom, I hope you know how to reach the blog lol! Love you!

Joselyn shout outs: Hi mom & dad, I’m not sure if you know how to read this but I miss you guys & I’ll talk to you soon 🙂