Update from UJ DR 2013

Hello Supporters of Universal Justice!

We just returned from the Dominican Republic and are happy to report that our trip went exceedingly well.

We were able to visit various organizations who do meaningful work in the country to benefit marginalized communities of Dominicans of Haitian descent. We started the week with an informational session by CEO Ulrick Gaillard at Batey Relief Alliance’s office. Among many important topics discussed, Ulrick detailed the grassroots work that BRA does to promote community economic development in the bateys.

From Left to Right: Ricky Singh, Lauren Irby, Nita Narayan, Paula Sternberg, Alex Cardenas, BRA's CEO Ulrick Gaillard, Aminta Kilawan, Linda Jordan, Michelle Gonzalez

From Left to Right: Ricky Singh, Lauren Irby, Nita Narayan, Paula Sternberg, Alex Cardenas, BRA’s CEO Ulrick Gaillard, Aminta Kilawan, Linda Jordan, Michelle Gonzalez

Later in the week, we met with Allison Petrozziello and Eddy Tejeda of the Observatory Migrants of the Caribbean (OBMICA), a social science think tank and research facility in the Dominican Republic. A researcher and an attorney respectively, Allison and Eddy gave us a detailed overview of the major legal milestones which led up to the current human rights issue of statelessness among Dominicans of Haitian descent.

From Left to Right: Alex Cardenas, Michelle Gonzalez, Ricky Singh, Paula Sternberg, Linda Jordan, Lauren Irby, Nita Narayan, OBMICA's Allison Petrozziello, Aminta Kilawna, and OBMICA's Eddy Tejeda
From Left to Right: Alex Cardenas, Michelle Gonzalez, Ricky Singh, Paula Sternberg, Linda Jordan, Lauren Irby, Nita Narayan, OBMICA’s Allison Petrozziello, Aminta Kilawan, and OBMICA’s Eddy Tejeda

Our meeting with OBMICA was particularly helpful in framing the rest of the week. We attended portions of a three-day long protest in front of the Junta Central Electoral by stateless  young Dominicans of Haitian descent who have joined the Reconoci.do movement. Centro Bonó, an organization committed to justice for the most impoverished and excluded in the Dominican Republic, played a pivotal role in mobilizing individuals from various villages to pariticipate in the protest.

Protest in front of the Junta Central Electoral

Protest in front of the Junta Central Electoral

Paola Pelletier of Centro Bonó liaised with Universal Justice so that members of our team could interview those affected, chronicling their personal stories of injustice at the hands of the state. In the coming weeks, the UJ DR team will be working on a short film, including footage of many of the stories we gathered at the protest.

Paola Pelletier of Centro Bono

Paola Pelletier of Centro Bono

In addition to our involvement with the issue of statelessness throughout the entire duration of the trip, we were also able to visit Mata Los Indios, the batey where Universal Justice has a long-standing relationship. In Mata, we connected with the elders of the community and developed a list of potential projects based on Mata’s immediate needs.

One of the community's concerns is access to education. Mata Los Indios currently functions with only one school teacher.

One of the community’s concerns is access to education. Mata Los Indios, which is heavily populated by children, currently functions with only one school teacher.

While we develop an advocacy campaign against statelessness in the Dominican Republic via a short film and report, we will also work towards identifying a sustainable project we can initiate for the people of Mata Los Indios.

We extend our thanks to all of the organizations and individuals who made our trip so worthwhile and look forward to continued partnership.

We are excited to keep this momentum so do look out for our short film and report coming soon!

Best,

Aminta Kilawan on behalf of the entire UJ DR 2013 Team

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Posted on March 19, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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