On Monday, many of our students’ parents were afraid to send them to school because Immigration Control was rounding up and deporting many Haitians. Deportations have definitely increased lately. Yesterday morning, Kamryn and I got stuck behind a truck, pictured here. These folks were likely sent to Haiti yesterday, shortly after they were picked up in the morning. They’re given no time to make any arrangements.
A few months ago, our family observed a chase on the way to school in the morning. About four men working construction for the government ran, jumping over a fence. One, who must’ve had documentation, helped them over, then turned to meet the guards that were chasing them on motorcycle. They had smiles on their faces as they frantically darted across the road and leaped over the chain link fence, which was at least six feet tall. We couldn’t help but to giggle. One of our family members commented that it looked like a game of chase.
But other times, it’s not so lighthearted. One of our student’s moms explained to me why she had to wean her daughter at eight months old, much earlier than her other children. It was because she was deported at the time, taken away from her daughter who, she says, was crying on the porch as she was hauled away.
My first reaction is to judge the Immigration Control and the authorities behind them. Do they not know what they are sending these people back to in Haiti? Fuel shortages, kidnapping, a cholera outbreak?
At the same time, I will never judge because, despite what you may hear, Dominicans are generally very easy going people. If you are 5 pesos short when paying for something, you can bet those 5 pesos will most always be forgiven. Many Dominicans treat Haitian immigrants and refugees with love and share with them. But the country has a natural fear of letting the chaos that is going on in Haiti spread to the Dominican Republic, and that is understandable.
And of course in many ways, it is still a game, (although a cruel one at times), because the mother who was separated from her daughter still lives here and her daughter is now over 18 years old. She found a way to come right back. Despite the deportations, guards take cheap bribes from undocumented people coming in, and those who lead them, and I don’t know that that situation will ever change.
The Dominican Republic is a developing country itself, located on the same island as Haiti, the country who is identified as “poorest” in the Western Hemisphere. It’s poor economically but oh so rich in history, culture, strength, and more. It’s a country full of endless potential.
Therefore, we stay the course we’ve been on for 16 years now. We want to support the Dominican government in this huge responsibility it has in serving as a refuge for Haitian immigrants and refugees. We want to provide the best educational environment for these children that we can, for as long as they are with us.
We are facing big financial challenges this year. We made it through the pandemic with flying colors, but are now hitting a bit of a wall after years of few volunteers coming, and perhaps the biggest challenge yet – inflation. We need help in spreading the word. Before the pandemic, we averaged 12 volunteer groups per year. In addition to the trip fees we earn leading and housing groups, volunteers often turn into natural advocates.
So far, less than half of our students are sponsored this school year. We need to get our students sponsored. We see it as the only option and are truly appreciative of the support. No amount is too little to help.