Monday, December 2, 2013

Hope at the Bi-National Market

During our time in the Dominican Republic, we have learned about Dominican-Haitian relations. We have witnessed the differences between the two nationalities, especially during one of our learning experiences to Dajabón. Dajabón is a city that lies on the Haitian-Dominican border, with the Massacre River dividing the two nations. It is a site where Trujillo, a past Dominican dictator, committed a large-scale slaughter of Haitians. In Dajabón, we visited the well-known Dominican-Haitian market, where Haitians and Dominicans come together every Monday and Friday to trade. During our visit, a Jesuit organization that oversees human rights issues at the border, Solidaridad Fronteriza, graciously offered to show and further explain to us how the market works. Every Monday and Friday morning, Haitians line up behind a gate on the bridge, waiting to be let into Dajabón so they can sell and buy goods. Similarly, Dominicans organize stands at the market or cross into Haiti to buy and sell goods too. We were privileged to have the chance to hear a Dominican woman’s story, Margarita’s, about her connection with the market. Margarita had worked full-time at the market every Monday and Friday for years, on top of taking classes at a University in a different town in order to become a teacher. Eventually, she graduated from college and received a part-time teaching position, which was not a sufficient income to be able to pay for her children to go to school. She continued working part-time at the market until she was offered a full-time teaching position. Now, she occasionally works at the market with her husband, who oversees their market stand. We were blessed to be able to talk to such a strong woman, who persevered through long days of work and education in order to provide a more reliable future for her family and herself. Margarita gave us a name and a face to humanize the many buyers and sellers at the market who come together every Monday and Friday in an attempt to make a living.

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