Friday, June 18, 2010

Haitians in Las Terrenas Cathedral Project

Since it would be unseemly to raise even the first stone of a Cathedral while there are hungry people, and since we have probably 15 million hungry people here..... we have some work ahead of us....

\I went up to the Samana Penisula, in the northeast, which is the only predominantly Protestant area in the country and where the local population is of very dark complextion, as it was first populated by freed US slaves, then by slum dwellers from the Capital who were sent there to "go and fish".  As the French developed Las Terrenas, Haitians found it easy to find work there and were welcomed.

Since the earthquake, the northern border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti is essentially open... in that any Haitians who have a passport can cross during market days twice a week, pay the bus divers 3000 pesos, and the drivers will pay the guards, and the Haitians ride to Santiago. After Santiago, there are no more passport checks. This is opposed to the 6000 pesos that they would normally pay for a one year multiple entry visa.  The most industrious of the Haitians do indeed have their visas, even their Business Visas, and have opened up the trade routes from the border market to the streets of Las Terrenas, trading the shoes and perfume and clothes that come in there for the cash that they get in the DR.

The Dominicans are making room for them. I watched a group of men, 200 strong. motor bikes parked on the side of the new highway, machetes in hand, cutting through the virgin forest on the side of the road. When I stopped to ask what they were doing... and they said .. well.. nothing.. and I said "Vamos hacer un lakou?" which is the word for a Haitian community,,, and they all smiled and gave me thumbs up... So I gave them $100 for juice and the Obama fist bump to the head guy.

But the Haitian artists who are already there are really struggling. Tourism is down as more apartments and villas have been constructed. I spoke with my friend Charlie Simon  who said it was becoming hard to just eat. So I recommended that he move to Samana and start employing other artists to produce more art for the cruise ship passengers who .. when they arrive arrive in a horde.... with SMALL paintings.. wrapped, with the wood for the stretcher all cut and the nails in a little plastic pouch all ready for the home... like Ikea... to sell for .. say $20... so that at LEAST they can eat.

But for seed money, we need to bring them FRESH Canvas and more PAINT ... to get the paintings that they already have off the  side of the walls where they are just decaying in the sun and rain.... although they do so try to protect them..

After the orginal seed money.. they could go on on their own,,''

But should the Church.. or Churches.. or Covens... or Meetings... or Beings .. wish to be involved... they could by simply buying some of the paintings and reselling them,,,,..

I already shipped twenty to my nephew in St Croix.

One of the first things that is needed is an orphanage for all the Haitian chidren who are finding their way over to this side of the border.... They are being trafficked. There is no where for them to go. There is no international refugee center. There is no capacity in Haiti to care for them. There is nothing for them to do in the Dominican Republic except be exploited.

They are an increasing presence on the streets of the Dominican cities and the beach towns.



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