In 2013 the Dominican Republic made a change to the country’s constitution that would lead to the deportation of thousands of people of Haitian descent. In response to an international outcry, the DR ‘officially’ suspended this controversial deportation, but has turned a blind eye to ongoing wide-spread violence against Haitian. Many families we talk with have shared harrowing stories of escaping with just the clothes on their backs after their homes were fire-bombed and crops destroyed, and the humiliation and despair they feel of losing all they had worked so hard for over the past many years. The refugees are scattered across the drought-racked, barren land near our center in Anse aPitre. They subsist in tents fashioned from sticks and cardboard. With little protection from the heat, no reliable source of food or water, facing each new day becomes a challenge.
For almost a year now, Amurtel has set up child friendly spaces for over 500 children, providing a hot meal each day for the children and pregnant and nursing women. The conditions are appalling, and with the spring rains, cholera is on the rise. These people, families struggling to stay together, understand despair, but as our Amurtel organizers have told us, they also understand the power of endurance. There is hope- there is always hope, as the women began to participate in Self Help Groups and the children manage to resume their education. ◆