The Nagasawa Family Photos
June, 2014: Mako in Haiti and the Dominican Republic
During the month of June, Mako went on a summer missions trip with InterVarsity-USA students, joining students from ADEE (Asociacion Dominicana de Estudiantes Evangelicos) in the DR.
Thursday, June 12th
Above is a statue of a Taino man, representing the original inhabitants of the island at the time of Christopher Columbus. The Taino people were decimated by disease and forced enslavement. We worked with Food for the Hungry in the small agricultural community of Cristo Redentor, near the city of Comendador in the province of Elias Pina.
We had a visitor from last year, a boy named Ivan who was very happy to see us.
This one of the latrines that our team built last year. Marina, Sarah, and Robinson came last year, along with Charles, Kaitlin, and me.
The community of Cristo Redentor threw a welcome party for us. This is Natanael and Carlos, two of the staff at Food for the Hungry, introducing us. I also respect FH a lot. They started as a relief organization that became a development organization as they sought to address the root causes of poverty and hunger. In the D.R., 46% of people have inadequate sanitation, 21% are undernourished, 26% lack access to clean water, 50% of the people live on $2 a day or less, and violence against women is the highest in the Western hemisphere. FH helps communities organize themselves, does educational programs with youth, provides some basic medical services (last year, 10,000 people were given parasite treatments), and works with churches to strengthen their community involvement. In Haiti, FH taught 1,440 people how to farm and gave them livestock and fruit tree seedlings. What impresses me deeply is that 90% of FH employees are from the 20 countries that FH works with. Carlos was a sponsored child through FH when he was 12 years old. He returned to work for them first as a volunteer in his home town, then on the national level.
Arleny's birthday was today!
Friday, June 13th
Our team divided up into groups. In the mornings, we did either construction of latrines or home visits in the community. In the afternoons, we ran a "vacation bible school" program for kids.
The evening sky over Cristo Redentor
Learning the dance from the girls in the community...
Saturday, June 14th
This is the cheese making business in Cristo Redentor. It turns out sharp cheddar. We suggested making goat cheese as well, for export. FH is looking into that!
The woman in the center is a Haitian woman who came to the D.R. seven years ago and decided to stay when she met a Haitian man and married him. Life has not been easy for her, her husband who works in agriculture, and their three children. They seem fairly integrated into the community, but there is not a Haitian moms' group, for example. Since they are undocumented, they cannot purchase the house they live in. Nor can they enroll their children in school past the 6th grade. Currently, the Dominican government has made it very possible for Haitians living in the DR to obtain the necessary Dominican documentation, but the Haitian government is now charging a heavy fee that most paperless Haitians in the DR cannot afford. The international community has called on Haiti to eliminate the fee. We pray that it would be so.
We really enjoyed the children. We hosted activities for children on three days, and also hosted an event for youth on another. During the youth event, a teenage girl (one of the girls below) gave her life to Jesus as she heard our students share about forgiveness.
Sunday, June 15th
This is a view of Cristo Redentor at about 6.30am.
The team getting ready to walk over to the church for the worship service.
In the evening, we went to Bon, the ice cream place. Mmmm...
Monday, June 16th
Even though we met one former Dominican military officer who said that Haitians once shot at him while near the border area, we were encouraged to see Dominicans and Haitians living and working together fairly well. We were touched, for instance, that FH staff Anamaria had married a Haitian man and worships at a church that has more Haitians than Dominicans. This supports an observation by scholar Samuel Martinez (in his article Not a Cockfight) that lower-income, agricultural Dominican communities show more willingness than urban elites to welcome Haitian migrants.
Tuesday, June 17th
Here we are visiting the Amo program. Food for the Hungry develops an educational program to complement what happens in public schools. Elena is sitting with the little sister of one of the students. The student has to bring her little sister to Amo.
Wednesday, June 18th
FH staff Mario, a Dominican man, and a master construction worker, apprenticed TiJezi, a Haitian man, years ago. TiJezi became a master builder himself; although he doesn't know Jesus, his name in Creole means "little Jesus"; and my colleague Kaitlin Ho gave him a Creole Bible (pictured right) and played him in a favorite past time, dominoes.
The Cristo Redentor community threw us a farewell party at the church.
The team really wanted to get the kids dancing...