Where We Work
Where does HaitiLove work? For a ministry called HaitiLove one would expect this to be a simple answer, Haiti. But, indeed it is not that simple. While some of our work takes place in Haiti, much of it also transpires in the Dominican Republic.
Most people do not realize that there is a large Haitian population in the DR. Some estimates insist that over two million Haitians have left their home land and have come to their eastern neighbor nation to find work, education and opportunity. Some of those 2 million were born in the DR, others are there as documented workers or students, and many more have come illegally or have over stayed their visas. Because of these circumstances there is a rich Haitian culture and community in the DR. Churches, schools, businesses, and families occupy their important part of society among Dominicans. Much of the hard labor is done by Haitians, meaning lower wages and less benefits. Over all the Haitian experience in the DR is difficult. Ethnic discrimination and prejudices are ever present. Immigration requirements are expensive. Therefore, many Haitians live in the DR with a deep longing to return home. They are truly sojourners in a foreign land.
Haitians in the DR occupy a special place in our hearts, ministry and strategy. When we are in the DR and meet Haitians there is an instant similarity, we are each foreigners. Gringo and Moreno. Despite language acquisition and cultural awareness, this similarity and connection is harder to apprehend in Haiti. This reality has led to some trusted relationships of interdependency in the DR.
There are some specific advantages to our work among Haitians in the DR. One positive aspect of the Haitian experience in the DR is that many Haitians learn to read and speak Spanish, meaning that they have greater access to helpful Christian books and recourses. Also, because of the transient nature of their community many Haitians do return home. Many times they return with formative experiences and a larger view of the world. We think that the Haitian churches in the DR have a unique opportunity to affect Haitian communities via these returning sojourners. In addition, we have observed, what we consider to be a greater willingness among the Haitian churches in the DR to work together for the good of the whole church. Furthermore, there seems, in our estimation, to be less corruption within the church. Finally, using the DR as a home base allows us to have a lower profile. Many times missionaries build unhealthy dependency and stifle church growth through being highly involved in churches and communities. Some of this activity is necessary, but we should try to have a low visibility in our work, encouraging the indigenous church to step forward.
With all this said, our desire is to serve and encourage Haitians regardless of where they live. Each context demands cultural sensitivity and our hope is to take advantage of the opportunities provided in each setting. For the glory of Christ and the good of his Church.