When people think about traveling to the Dominican Republic, what is one thing that comes to their minds? Maybe it's the beautiful beaches or the amazing getaway from reality. The sad thing is that travelers that go to this amazing country do not know the pain it holds from its people.
Last week, I was given the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic for an immersion trip. Not knowing what to expect or what expectations to set, I left with the hole in my heart because of everything I saw. This location is much more than its beautiful beaches. The history of this country is filled with pain, blood, and ripping away the nationality from people of Haitian descent.
During the years of conquests, the trade of Haitians coming to the Dominican Republic were supposed to be for the sugar cane farming.They were told they would be allowed to stay until they were told to leave when the work was done, but if they wanted to stay - they could have. The descendants of those families that stayed are now being treated as if they were nothing.
People of Haitian descent are being ripped away of their nationality even though they identify as Dominicans and were born and raised in the Dominican Republic. The government is recognizing them as “foreigners” and “illegals” instead of who they are, Dominicans.
Within years, there have been many communities that are not aware of the situation at hand nor know their rights. People in organizations such as Reconocido (English Translation: Recognized) are fighting for the rights of those who are of Haitian descent and make it aware to other communities about what is going on within the government and their communities. Other organizations such as Caminante (English Translation: Walker) is a shelter for children that are on the streets that also help the children they encounter and help know their rights and what they can do.
It is crazy to talk about my experience when the people I speak to are always shocked about the discrimination that still occurs in other countries such as the Dominican Republic even though its known as paradise. Tourists go into these countries thinking about enjoying the beaches, getting some fresh coconuts, and trying some of the typical Dominican meals.
Sadly, people only see one side of this beautiful country’s story, but learning more about the problems within this country can help people be more aware of the situations going on and help the country change for the better.