On my last business card,I termed myself a "creative visualizer." I lived then in Asheville, NC, where such terms were appropriate. But I am given to dreams and visions. After I had visited the northern border of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, I was given this one:
I see the border between these two nations as a wound in need of stitching. I have been daily visualizing a great ribbon of love going back and forth between the nations as through the holes in a shoe, like a bootlace of love, bringing together the divide, healing the wounds, making the island whole, united in harmony. Here is how it appeared.
I would focus in on the Massacre river, on the Haitian side at Ounaminthe, the big field there on the other side of the bridge, covered as it is now with plastic trash, bordering on the river where the women and children went to wash their clothes. I would bring a chair, and an umbrella, two big cartons of avocados and a box of large black plastic trash bags.
The children would approach, curious, as children are. I would show them the avocados and the bags and then we would walk together picking up all the trash. When a bag was full, I would trade them an avocado for the trash. Somehow, despite my lack of Kreyole, I would explain that they were to bring me back the pits - in a few days or a week - and a jar. We would start an avocado farm. Soon we would also grow bamboo, for food and furniture and weaving. Soon we would have a commercial chicken farm with fresh eggs.
The vision continued as on the other side of the road, men were building an incinerator for burning the trash.
When the field was cleared, we would begin moving rocks into a great circle, creating a sacred space where we could sit together in equality and silence.
First we would sing. We would chant. The drummers would arrive. We would raise a cone of power for the healing of the earth. Magic began to permeate the air as the hope was raised. Haiti=Eden. Hispaniola=Heaven. The Angels gathered round.
Near the edge of the field, the men were building a latrine, covered space so that the women would have privacy. Soon there would be well, with running water, lines for hanging the wash, tables for sharing food.
The market itself, a gift from the people of the world, was built with strong wire walls for protection while it was in its growth as an area of free commerce, between the two free people, both citizens of democracies. The land of the market belonged to both nations, and to neither. It was encircled with two storied buildings of concrete, strong walls, solid roofs to keep out the rain, electricity and running water from solar panels. It was completely self contained and self sustaining. While it was primarily a place of commerce, it was evident that this market represented a concern for something far greater even than money. This was a manifestation of a new sort of world.
Each morning upon the opening of the market, and each evening at the close, a loud bell chimed. Everyone present assembled in a circle. Then sang, first the anthem of one nation, then the anthem of another. And in reverse at the close of day.
The upstairs of the market was a living school, a constant educational experience. Here there were free internet connections for those who were enrolled in ongoing university training. In order to pay for their education, the older students were obliged to give equal time to teaching the younger ones. Everyone was learning everything in four languages, as it is easy for children to learn that. Signs were printed in Kreyole, Spanish, French and English. The market itself had a multilingual web page where orders for hand made goods, juices, preserves, could be placed.
There was a radio station next to a music room full of instruments so that musicians from both sides of the border could come together in harmony in the loving language of music. Linked with Radio for Peace International at the UN University for Peace in Costa Rica and broadcasting in French, Spanish, and English, it provided language lessons and hopeful news from around the world on global progress toward the Millennium Goals.
Next door, were the craft studios, with tools and teachers for embroidery, leather working, painting, the heartfelt language of illiterates.
Every inch of the market was a classroom. There was ongoing instruction in how to produce enough for a family to eat on a small piece of ground. There was ongoing instruction from the micro-enterprise institutions on finance, book-keeping, and loans group loans available. Teams were busy building solar ovens and sand water purifiers. Alternate energy was being produced by bicycles. Instruction was being given on how to safely use grey water for irrigation, on how to construct self-composting toilets.
There was a dorm room where visiting presenters, experts in alternative energy, alternative construction, such as straw bale and rammed earth construction, could stay during their two week tours.
The health clinic, staffed with volunteers from around the world, and operating under a grant from the Gates Foundation, had an ongoing Aids testing and educational programs and provided access to inexpensive retroviral drugs. It also provided classes on balanced nutrition, basic first aid courses construction of sanitary facilities, prevention of water borne diseases, and distributed mosquito nets for the protection from malaria and dengue. Equipment for the establishment of small medical outposts was available to those who had completed the required training.
The former free trade zone, which had failed due to lack of a co-operation from the people, on the edge of the market, was now firmly enclosed within the bounds of the market, It had been transformed into a refugee center and recycling station. Daily more Haitians returned from their hard exile in the sugar cane fields and brothels and construction work in the Dominican Republic.
Haitian and Dominican citizens in the Diaspora as well as people of good will from all over the world had all contributed enough for the upkeep of the center‘s. returning exiles who were first healed and cared for as they learned new skills. No one could live there for more than 6 months, in order to make room for the new returning exiles.
All the used goods that came into Haiti from the United States were brought here. The goods were laid out on great tables and sorted through. The valuable shoes with famous logos, such as Nike, which could be purchased for under $5, would be repackaged to export back to the streets of American cities, where they would be sold for $50, under half the retail price. The clothing that was made of natural fibers, cotton, wool, silk, rayon, would be cut into pieces to be reworked into quilted bags and clothing. The pretty evening dresses and blue jeans (except those that were going to be hand embroidered or turned into skirts) would be sold onto the Dominican side of the island along with the finished crafts that came out of the studios. These crafts would also be exported to fair trade outlets in the United States and Europe.
There was one big office where all the non-governmental organizations that were operating in Haiti or for the development of the Dominican Republic to reach the Millennium Development Goals had their programs described and represented.
The center of the market held stalls for the merchants, shielded from the sun. Here were the best of all the Haitian handcrafts, the finest selections of Dominican cigars, the freshest organic produce, cakes, jams, hand made brooms and clothing.
Near the outer edges were the animal stalls where the Heifer Project and various agencies were conducting classes on how to care for the chickens, goats and small pigs. Once the classes were completed, groups of women would be given the animals for their own care with the stipulation that the first born of any animal would be given away to someone who had none. Next door were the community orchards.
In the river, running through the center of the market, fresh water fish were being raised for market.
Outside the market, the fields on both the Haitian and Dominican sides were being daily put into profitable production. With the assistance of Stoneyfield Farms, the largest organic yogurt maker in the United States, and Dannon, its new parent company in France, the small local Haitian yogurt co-operative, Lait Agro Pro, had expanded its operation deep into all the regions in Haiti and had a new bottling plant near the market. In its cooperative effort with the Bee Keeper’s alliance on the Dominican side of the river, all the farmers were now producing both yogurt and honey. With the assistance of Burt’s Bees, a progressive company in the United States, they were now producing lines of soap, facial creams, and flower essence oils.
The chocolate producers in the Dominican Republic, fearful of the fungus that was threatening their concentrated production, had moved many of their plants to the fertile area around the market. They were in discussion with various organic chocolate makers about opening up chocolate production.
The companies from the United States, Motts, Ocean Spray and Snapple who exported apple, cranberry and fruit drinks to the Dominican Republic ,agreed that it would be more lucrative to collect their used bottles through re-cycling and fill them with local juices produced on Hispaniola. Their plant was just completed and already the mango and pineapple and lime sellers had begun to bring their products to be sold there.
The Coca Cola company in both Santo Domingo and Haiti agreed to start a recycling project for its plastic bottles and began to offer a deposit on the bottles. There was a noticeable improvement seen on the streets and beaches of both countries. In the industrial zone by the capital, they began to produce plastic blocks and paving material out of the materials. These were among the most popular items sold at the market.
The German solar panel manufacturer who had agreed to lend its technical assistance for the construction of the market, saw that there were enough skilled workers present and decided to open up a manufacturing base to take advantage of the profitable trade agreements with and proximity to the United States. Also, the Swedish manufacturer of energy efficient refrigerators, washers, dryers and other small appliances had started discussions on building a plant next to it.
The governments of the two island nations had agreed to issue special low priced tourist cards to those who were crossing the border through the market. On both sides of the border, thriving tourist businesses grew, taking visitors on trips to visit Cap Haitian and Fort Liberty and Monte Christi. There were bird watching tours, snorkeling trips, cultural exchanges and camping tours. On both sides of the border, there were a growing number of small bed and breakfasts. The former trade of sex tourism had declined due to the increased number of family travelers and their sensibilities.
And so it was that by the year 2015, Haiti, the poorest of all the nations in the Hemisphere, reached the goal of reducing extreme poverty in half, drastically cut down on infant mortality, fostered the education and equality of women. Forgiving the world for all the pain it had suffered, it became the beacon to the world as was always its destiny.