Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day 3 by Kyla (Ascensión - Haitian refugee community)

Today was our first day in Ascención! Before we could even leave our complex, we were stopped and detained some taxi drivers who wanted our business. They blocked the street and held us up for almost an hour. It was kind of weird. Once we finally got on the bus we rode around for about 40 minutes just trying to get to Ascensión. As we got closer I looked out the window and realized that we were riding through a dried up, old, dead sugar cane field. The sugar cane industry in the DR has recently collapsed due a shift in US trade policy. We road through the field for about 10 minutes, on rocks and little creeks. The place is set far back from the Dominican community as most of the people living there are not recognized as “citizens” of the DR; many have relocated to this location from Haiti. So they have no legal rights or economic freedom.

            When we finally arrived, the kids jumped on the bus and wouldn’t let go until the bus stopped. When we got off the bus people were surrounding the doors, young and old, trying to sell us things. Most of the young kids just wanted to talk or play with us. They were attached from the beginning. They followed us around the whole day, and they were just such beautiful kids.

      I was a part of group 3 and our first rotation assignment was to just play with the kids. Play soccer, talk, and run around, anything! We just had to be engaged with the kids. We played duck, duck, goose, and talked about their families and their lives in Ascención. After about an hour, our next assignment was to clear a plot of land for planting seeds and crops. We were out there working really hard and all of the people in the village were out there helping us! At one point we had an assembly line that we were using to hand off dead weeds and grass. In the beginning it was just the kids from GLA but as the people saw us working they helped. There were 7 year olds in the assembly line having the greatest time helping us out. It was just amazing. The people there are very friendly and eager to help. It was wonderful I loved it. 

            This is a photo of us cleaning up all of the dead weeds that were already turned over.

Excuse my face, but we were working really hard and really fast in the assembly line. Despite that, we got the job done!


  1. Kyla I think it's sooo cool that you are helping with their community garden. Maybe you can give some tips to the students at our new SLA/Spring Street garden we're trying to start!

  2. Kyla, Thanks for connecting the dried up sugar cane field with the change in US trade policy. How great that your enthusiasm and hard work inspired the camp residents to work with you side by side.

  3. How did you all get out of the situation when you were detained for 40 minutes? That must have been pretty scary...tourists have to be SO careful in other countries. What an adventure!

  4. Hey Kyla, sounds like what happened to the D.R.'s sugar industry similarly mirrors the dairy industry in Jamaica if you recall the movie "Life After Debt" about globalization and the Free Economic Zones where a lot of our "stuff" is assembled. I miss the kids at Ascencion, and that part of the D.R. So very happy you are able to be there for this week.
    -Mr. H