Helping Our Friends in the Dominican Republic
Our Work with the Haitian people of the Dominican Republic
From the time Conroy and Kim were married, they had a desire to work in other countries with those less fortunate than themselves. They applied to various agencies, but opportunities were scarce. In 1990, they attended an information meeting at their church about the need for groups to go to the Dominican Republic and build churches, schools and shelters for the Haitian people living in the Dominican Republic. They were completely drawn to the project and volunteered to lead a group of twelve to the mission field.
These projects were two weeks in duration and involved building a multi-use 20' by 40' concrete and block building which would withstand the hurricane season. This building would be used as a church, school, shelter from storm, and a common community hall.
About 1.5 million Haitians live in the Dominican Republic. Of those 1.5 million, many work for the Dominicans as sugar cane cutters. These workers are more akin to slaves with very few human rights and they generally make about two dollars USD a day. The families and cutters live in small villages (known as
bateys) on the sugar cane plantations.
Houses usually consist of sticks and mud. There is no running water or proper sewage disposal, and the families live in constant poverty. The children have no right to go to school and, as such, there are around 250,000 Haitian children who do not attend school in the Dominican Republic.
Since we said ‘yes’ to that first project, we have made fifteen different trips along with 54 different people from Stratford and area. Max and Kina VanTil were with us on our first and second trips to the Dominican and since then they have worked fulltime for the Haitian and Dominican people. Our full story is found in your room upon arrival.