We started the day at 6:00 am and it was (thankfully) easy to wake everyone else up since there were only three rooms. Because of the air conditioning and the beauty of the Base House Villa, everyone slept comfortably.
After a delicious breakfast, we had a mental warm-up discussing background facts about the NGO Ascala and immigration in the DR in general. After that, we drove to ASCALA for 30 minutes. Our first activity of the day was listening to the two ASCALA speakers. One was part of the administration and the other was a Haitian immigrant himself. During their speeches, we got to learn more about how ASCALA helps all kinds of immigrants, specifically Haitian immigrants, sustain themselves in the DR. We also learned about the immigration process itself and the current political situation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which directly impacts immigration. It was really interesting yet unfortunate to learn about the corruption within both countries and the deep-rooted ideologies of xenophobia and racism. The group was very grateful to get to know more about the details and get a first-hand account of how immigration works in the DR.
Our second activity consisted of visiting a sugar cane plantation. We drove for about 30 minutes from the ASCALA building to the plantation. Students learned a lot about the wages and physical labor that many Haitian immigrants go through on a daily basis. Workers typically work around 8 hours a day and only get paid 7 dollars a day. The manager of the plantation was nice enough to let us all try some fresh sugar cane. Students overall had an informative and interactive time by seeing first-hand the lifestyles of the immigrants.
After the activities were done, we had our long drive from our beach villa to our main housing in Jarabacoa. Thankfully, we took one rest stop during a ride of four hours and were able to get some snacks! When we arrived, it was close to seven, which meant we ate dinner shortly after. After dinner, students worked on completing a mid-trip evaluation survey, which is essential to their learning and reflection. As usual, after dinner and the surveys were done, our nightly meeting happened, which included self-reflection questions. We engaged in a very informative discussion about immigration as a whole group, and how we can improve the situation of poverty and immigration around the world, and in the DR specifically. Finally, the torch was passed to the next LDD (Leader of the Day), Adrian, who will be taking care of “Aid and Development” Day. We wish him good luck!
We miss everyone back home 🙂 – Grejs
Love all of you 😀 <3 – Sandra