The Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, and is the second largest Caribbean nation. It continues to be a popular tourist destination for its beautiful white sand beaches and pristine blue water, mountains, waterfalls, and of course, its tropical climate. However, by extreme contrast, the vast majority of the national population lives in distressed conditions and it is the Haitian-Dominicans who suffer the most.
In the mid-1900s, Haitian migrant workers came over to the Dominican Republic to work in the sugarcane fields. Historically racial tension and prejudice has always been a problem between these two nations and it still is today.
The migrant sugarcane workers and their children were denied the chance to become citizen. Unrecognized by Haiti or the Dominican Republic, an entire group of people is living without a country to call home. They cannot claim any rights or privileges granted citizens. They have no access to social services such as education and healthcare. Racial tension and prejudices have exacerbated this desperate situation.
Most of these Haitian descendants still live in the most southern regions near the border of Haiti in bateyes—shantytowns originally built for migrant sugarcane workers from Haiti in the 1960s. Most homes in these communities are pieced together with palm-wood boards and corrugated tin roofs.
Families are suffering from lack of basic necessities including running water, sewage, and electricity.
Annual hurricane season endangers families and often destroys their homes and what few possessions they own.
Healthcare is a real concern. Most families lack of access to health care facilities and affordable medical care.
There are still many children born to Haitian immigrant descendants who are unable to apply for citizenship. Without citizenship, these children will be unable to attend college and apply for jobs that would earn them a livable wage.
Due to poverty and lack of education a high percentage of teenage girls get married and pregnant at a young age, some as early as eleven years old.
In 1997, a woman named Malou Faublas learned about COTN and asked for help. She was working with 67 children in the batey of Algodon and conditions were very bad.
She was unable to adequately meet the most basic needs of the children. COTN set up a Village Partnership Program in Algodon, focusing on providing food and education. Since then, COTN's ministry in the Dominican Republic has greatly expanded and today serves more than 1,000 children.
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