History

Where we serve

Located in the Caribbean, Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the island of Hispaniola. Haiti is a French and Haitian Creole-speaking country occupying the western one-third of the island; the Dominican Republic is the Spanish-speaking country occupying the eastern two-thirds.

Who we serve

The Dominican Republic has long been known for its sugar industry, which employs thousands of Haitian laborers. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are approximately 500,00 to 650,000 Haitians or Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the DR (seven to ten percent of the Dominican population), housed in 375 to 500 bateyes–shantytowns originally founded by the Dominican government in the late 1800s. An estimated ninety percent of batey residents are Haitian or of Haitian descent.

Living Conditions

Living conditions in the bateyes are appalling with poor sanitation and unreliable (if any) electricity. Unpaved roads become flooded during rainstorms and bateyes lose contact with the outside world.

Working conditions are equally as abysmal and have been likened to modern-day slavery. Cane cutters invest grueling fifteen-hour days and in return receive less than $2.50 (75 pesos) for their efforts. Often the pay is in the form of vouchers that can only be used at the sugar company’s store.

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