Wednesday, March 4, 2015

This blog is difficult to write...

...but I want to request prayer support for the horrible situation of the Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

The problem between the Dominicans and the Haitians continues to escalate.  Thank you for taking the time to read this blog to the end which includes two newspaper articles of more than a year ago copied below.

The Haitian people in the Dominican Republic are being physically and sexually abused and even killed.  Students are being taken out of classes in schools and also university and abused.  In one of this week's newspapers there are photos of a young girl in school uniform who had been sexually abused, killed and thrown aside.  Too, a photo of a young Haitian man who is a professor in the DR and currently working on his Master's Degree who had been badly physically abused.  His face was swollen beyond recognition.

One Haitian man was killed by hanging in a public square and the Haitian flag burned.  Others have been shot.  A terrible thing is going on in the DR against Haitians.  I would like us Christians to come together in prayer against these atrocious acts of racism.

Yesterday in Haiti retaliation happened by people burning a bus driven by a Dominican, but the driver is okay.  The Haitian people are rightfully fed up and feeling fearful but this kind of retaliation is not the answer.

Last week the director of our HATS school, Met Luckner, along with the school superintendent and secondary teachers met with students and elementary teachers, and gave them information as to the abuse the Haitians in the Dominican Republic are enduring.  It is happening daily and continuing to escalate.  While talking to our students about it twice Luckner could not continue and the superintendent or a secondary teacher filled in so Luckner could compose himself.  I had to leave the church where the students were assembled three times due to not being able to control the flowing of tears.

Luckner speaking to our students with support of superintendent and secondary teachers

When some of the abuse and killing is happening videos are being made of it and posted.  Today I saw a  video online of a severe beating to a Haitian man whose arms and legs were tied and whose mouth was gagged. The beating was followed by stabbing with a huge knife.  This much I saw.  The stabbing apparently turning into killing and dismemberment but I chose to not watch it any further.  I felt that to write about it, to request prayer support for the Haitian people in the DR, I needed to see some of it myself.

Thank you for joining with us in prayer for the Haitian people who are in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic's Discrimination of Haitians.
By Editorial Board November 7, 2013

HAITI AND the Dominican Republic, uneasy neighbors on the sun-baked island of Hispaniola, share a tangled and contentious history, by turns violent, cooperative and exploitative. That is the background, though hardly an excuse, for an unconscionable decision by the highest Dominican court that strips at least 200,000 ethnic Haitian migrants of any claim to citizenship, including those born on Dominican soil decades ago.

The court’s decision enshrines the deep-seated racism and discrimination suffered by Haitian migrants and their children, who have worked back-breaking jobs in Dominican sugar-cane fields and construction sites for many years. It leaves the migrants stateless, lacking even the certainty that their children can receive an education.

Compounding this injustice, the court ordered the authorities to comb through birth records, back to 1929, to weed out ethnic Haitians no longer entitled to citizenship. Tens of thousands will be left in legal limbo, including those who have never set foot in Haiti and speak no Creole, Haiti’s main language.
The Dominican economy, much like that of the United States, depends on migrant labor to fill jobs at the bottom of the wage scale. And much like the United States’ political class, Dominican authorities have balked at extending fair treatment and equal status to those migrants.

For many years, the children of Haitian laborers born on Dominican soil were denied official documents on the grounds that their parents were “in transit” — even if they’d been working in the country for decades. A constitutional amendment in 2010 codified that systemic discrimination, and the court decision, handed down last month, set the rule in stone — and applied it retroactively. The court gave officials one year to draw up a list of residents to be excluded from or stripped of citizenship.

The implications of the court’s xenophobic ruling are disastrous. Ethnic Haitians — as well as the Dominican-born children of immigrants from Europe, China and elsewhere — may no longer be entitled to subsidized tuition, public health insurance or other benefits.As in the United States, mass deportation of immigrants on whom the economy relies is not a viable option for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican president, Danilo Medina, acknowledged that the decision had created “a human problem that we have to solve.”

U.S. officials should press the issue through diplomatic channels with their Dominican counterparts. By ignoring the plight of ethnic Haitians, the international community would only compound an injustice.

December 2013
Why Is the Dominican Republic Forcing Out Haitians?
[OPINION] France Francois says recent anti-Haitian legislation will decimate the Dominican Republic
By France Fran├žois

BLACKOUT:  Why Is the Dominican Republic Forcing Out Haitians?

A lot of tension and uproar has followed the Dominican court ruling that retroactively and arbitrarily stripped citizenship from an estimated 200,000-300,000 Dominicans of Haitian descent in the country since 1929 and labeled these people as being “in transit,” despite the fact that few people spend 84 years and 4 generations “in transit” in the same country---imagine the profound social upheaval that would ensue if the United States retroactively revoked citizenship from all Irish-Americans in the U.S. since 1929. The impact on the lives of these people suddenly made stateless are profound- access to public education, voting rights, health care, and even birth certificates and ID cards in the DR are all reserved for citizens alone.

The two countries have established separate identities grounded in their experiences with colonialism. “...No other group is like the Haitians which arrived [in the DR] with the cultural baggage of a history of black pride in a country that chose to identify with the European elite,” historian Edward Paulino noted to the New York Times. While Haiti so ascribes to black nationalism that even the Haitian constitution declares all its citizens black, the Dominican Republic, in contrast, has tried to distance itself from its African roots. In the DR, to be black is to be Haitian, and to be called black is tantamount to a slur.
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Too, I ask you to join me in prayer for Ti Luc to finally receive a visitor's visa to Canada.  Yesterday Luckner and I went to the Visa Application Office in Port au Prince and filed an application on his behalf.  We gave a lot of supporting documents but there is a chance we could still be turned down as none of the copies we left there are certified.  Our copies cannot be certified as we do not have originals.  The lawyer working on finishing the adoption and getting the passport for Ti Luc has been missing in action for some time.  This has been a huge problem for us.  We, however, know that God is in the miracle business - he has already done a miracle in Ti Luc's life - and we are praying the visa will be okayed with ordinary copies.  We have a tracking number to check the progress of our application online.  We were told we will be called when they need us to return to PAP to pick up Ti Luc's passport.  Please join us in prayer that when his passport is returned to us it will have a visitor's visa in it.  Thank you for your past and for your ongoing support of HATS-Haiti, and for joining your prayers with ours for these two requests.

My son, Ti Luc, who needs a visa

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and for praying for the precious Haitian people in the DR, and for my son, Ti Luc.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fundraise with us

Darcy Taylor, a grade 12 student at Gonzaga High School in St. John’s, NL is a leader of Gonzaga’s Peace and Justice Committee and the founder / leader of the High School Social Justice Coalition.  His group is spearheading a fundraising initiative for Hands Across the Sea at his local high school.

The High School Social Justice Coalition is a group of students who represent social justice clubs from six high schools in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. The group, which was formed in September 2013, is dedicated to the service of others. Through a partnership with the IceCaps Care Foundation, the coalition has been responsible for the donation of over $15,000 to local charitable organizations since it’s formation. The group has also collected stuffed animals for needy children at Christmas, organized a youth benefit concert, and helped like-minded students share ideas regarding social justice issues.

The goal of “Hats for Haiti Day” is not only to support the incredible work done by Ms. Karen Huxter in Haiti, but also to raise awareness about important global issues such as poverty and education.

Their fundraiser, Hats for Haiti Day is coming up! It’s simple, on March 20th, students wear a hat to school and bring in a loonie. All money raised will be donated to the Hands Across the Sea organization. Would your school like to join the campaign? Email for more information.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Thank you... the Texas part of our HATS-Haiti family.

Thank you David, Brooks, Julie and Joanna for returning to be with us.  Thank you David for bringing four new ones with you - Milford, Claire, Kyle and Morgan. I think we now have four more members added to our HATS family.  Thank you to all eight who made up the team and worked hard while here.  What a team they were.  Knowledgeable, experienced, willing to try anything and everything, and a lot of fun to boot.  Does not get much better than that.

Our kids did a welcome sign

Brooks writing the blog and David enjoying his grandson Jonathan

Julie, Morgan, Claire and Joanna

Pillowcases were made especially for each child by Brooks' mother, with scripture verse

Brooks in fine form as usual

Magdala enjoying the show

Total fascination in Brooks' magic show for them

The girls know how to work

Claire and Karen at Radio Creole

Enroute to airport

Saying bye to a great part of our HATS family
Y'all come back now!

Karen and gang 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Texas Team. Monday, Day 5

By Ebony and Ivory (Brooks and Milford)

The morning started off with devotionals at the school. Since last week was Carnival week, this was the first and only chance for the new folks to see how they roll at the school.

Milford: “It was awesome to see more than 200 kids praising at one time.”

Brooks” “What Milford doesn’t say is awesome, but really thinks is awesome, is that all the teachers and kids assumed he is a large Haitian man and would speak to him in Kreyol. His response in English always results in shocked faces. This is actually really awesome.”

Leaving school devotions at the church to go to the raising of the Haitian flag

One little preschooler kind of lost enroute from church to classroom

We then got to work. The girls touched up paint around the girls dorm. Julie and JoJo made the chalkboards look as good as new. Kyle risked life and limb to paint the trip around the upper deck of HATS World Headquarters. Milford, David, and Brooks finished the renovation of Karen’s bathroom, turning it into a luxurious spa and escape for her.

What's this. Keith on the ground and Kyle in the air

Bigger jobs could not be done due to lack of paint

The girls know how to work

Milford: “It was my first time installing a bathtub with concrete, and David did a great job on the bathroom cabinets for storage.”

Brooks: ”What Milford doesn’t mention is that Brooks did a phenomenal job painting the cabinets with a coat of old pink paint that served as primer until Keith can get hold of more white paint (that Karen needs to go buy). What he also doesn’t tell you as that as mechanical engineer, our design standards here go against everything he knows and values in life. He is a changed man though he’s still in shock. His tolerance for lack of accuracy and perfection has adapted to Haitian standards in a few short days. We are proud of how far he has come (or has fallen).

Huge storage cupboard is almost finished. Fantastic job

Painting left to do only. Karen loves it

We then spent some great time with the kids. We gave them Team Texas shirts to match ours, and were able to pray for each of them here on our final day together.

Josie being prayed for by Morgan

Karena & Jonathan being prayed for by Claire

Dieunel & Ti Luc being prayed for by Jo Jo

Milford: “the kids enjoyed looking at my family photos on my cell phone.”

Brooks: “what Milford doesn’t say is we’re not sure the kids realized they were looking at Texans, but they seemed to enjoy the pictures anyway.”

It was really special though. We love the kids here and we think the feeling is mutual. It’s so great to come back every year and see how the kids have grown physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Now after a final good-bye to the kids, we’re off to Radio Creole to entertain thousands with our musical talents.

Milford: “I’m looking forward to seeing what this radio event everyone keeps talking about is all about.”

Brooks: “What Milford doesn’t mention is that he’s coming solely to serve as our security guard and save HATS some money on security costs”

Brooks was in fine form on the air. It was a fun hour of radio

Radio Creole with Luckner

Monday, February 23, 2015

Blog from Morgan - February 22, 2015

Team Texas had a great day. After getting a restful night of sleep, complete with chirping birds and distant drums, we headed off to church. Worship held the most noise and praise that any member of Team Texas had seen in at least a year. Drums and tambourines complete with a ten minute water break pre-sermon. It was amazing! The preaching was short and sweet with a simple message: fear or faith?

Sunday morning worship

Morgan and Milford at back of church

Julie taking care of Jonathan in church

Milford consoling Sandra after church

Due to the lack of paint, the team got a tour of Artibonite Valley. We saw unfathomable sights. Team Texas got a VIP tour of the castle of King Henry 1st. The castle had 365 doors and windows, each one represented a different day. We visited a fort from the French times and saw the dam that supports the canal. It was a sight to behold!

Heading to Ti Rieviere

The valley is a view to behold

However, ask anyone from Team Texas what the best part of their day was, your answer will be the same. Church was great, the sights were pretty, but Team Texas pulled off the nearly impossible stunt of beating the Haitians at their own game. Kyle scored a goal at the last second to win it all for us. Moise and JJ tried to convince Momma that the goal didn’t count, but anyone could see that the goal was clearly a goal. With the final point, we beat them 2-2. We count that as a win! Keith was the best goalie Team Texas could have had, and Brooks scored a goal early that got our momentum rolling. The rest of the team played great defense that kept the Haitians from scoring again. I for one can’t wait to see what other blessings this trip will bring us.

Soccer match opening anthem

The Haitian anthem

Top notch soccer

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blog from Joanna - Friday, Feb 20th

Team Texas started the day with some renovations to the main house on the compound. Ti Luc’s room was cleared out, cleaned and got a fresh coat of “Ti Luc Blue” paint. While Julie, Morgan, Claire, Joanna and Kyle worked on Ti Luc’s room, David, Milford and Brooks were hard at work demolishing Karen’s bathroom. They reassured Karen that they covered the big hole in the wall, so she no longer has to fear having nocturnal visitors in her room. To the delight of the rest of Team Texas, Milford and David were able to work quickly enough to get the hot water hooked back up in time for evening showers. On a normal day in Haiti, most would be fine with a cold shower, but we have been blessed with unseasonably “cool” weather, only in the mid 80s!

Milford starting on bathroom repairs

The wood that was actually holding the bath tub

New base for bathtup. No wood this time

Let's get the corners first

Ti Luc's room looking soooo much better

After a hard day’s work, the team geared up for soccer -  boys versus  girls (including our best girls, Milford, Keith and Brooks). The game was a landslide in the boys favor, but the girls put up a good fight, with Keith being a supreme goalie and Brooks scoring two goals bring the final score to 9-2.

Okay Brooks. Do your thing

Go Morgan go

The night ended with a game of dominoes between Joanna, Morgan, Claire, Kyle, Karen and Joan. Between the three younger girls, we had our hands full helping our sleepy competitors match their tiles. It soon became clear that our need for sleep was stronger than our will to play, so we will be continuing the game throughout the weekend.

Saturday, Feb 21st

David and Milford are continuing to work hard on Karen’s bathroom, returning her bathtub to its place. The rest of the team moved outside for the day, painting another luscious coat of Tempting Teal to the columns and trim of Karen’s home. Brooks, with the help of Moise and JJ, put his steady hand to the task of painting a Texas Flag on the new basketball goal to go along side the Haitian and Canadian flags. What is Team Texas, if we do not leave our mark on everything? The Texas team maybe shut out of a soccer match but we are hungry for a rematch on the basketball court.

Morgan painting from a small ledge. Her dad watching from below

Touch up painting

Canada, Haiti and Texas - let's play basketball

Just before noon the team took a break from painting and the girls went with Milford and Karen to go visit the market in Verrette. It was quite an experience and sensory overload. Julie made the comment that it was their Walmart equivalent.  She was right. Anything and everything could be purchased, from clothes to produce to charcoal. As we passed through the market, there were many comments being thrown our direction, the most common being “etranje”. Karen explained once we got back to the truck, that they were saying “There go 4 strangers (etranje), Madame Karen and one Haitian”.  She began to laugh and said “My plan worked perfectly! They all believed Milford was my Haitian body guard!”

Five team members went to the market

Though we shared some laughs about Milford’s new found power, being mistaken as a Haitian police man, this experience has further solidified our belief in Karen’s amazing work. Seeing the market was to see real life in Haiti. Every day, these people pack up their wares and take them to market, set them out in a space no larger than 16 sq ft, and hope to sell their wares, when in reality, they have three people next to them with the same product for sale, only to pack most of it up to return home. Karen explained that the hope is to sell a little of whatever they have in order to buy rice to feed their family. It is truly an overwhelming experience. What Karen is doing, and providing through sponsors to these kids here at HATS, is to give them life. These children, through the grace of God and the vessel he has used through Karen, receive nourishment in its basic form, but even more of a miracle is nourishment of their spirit. It is humbling to work with such an organization and woman of God in Karen. May God continue to bless Karen in health, wealth and happiness so that she may continue to pour that out into this community.

Joanna, Claire and Morgan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Brooks here.

The next few days will be taken over by Team Texas, also known as Radio Creole’s favorite on-air guests. We have the shirts to prove it. We’re made up of wily veterans David, Brooks, and Julie, the returning after a two year absence JoAnna, and newbies Claire (daughter of David), Kyle and his daughter Morgan, and Milford. And even though we had to drug Milford in the airport and force him onto the plane after he heard stories of our adventures, we’re all happy to be here.

Our day started after a long night’s sleep in our hotel rooms in Ft. Lauderdale.

We got to sleep in all the way to 3:45am. So obviously we woke up refreshed and ready for the day. We flew out at 6am, landed, and went smoothly through customs, where we were greeted with the waiting smile and arms of our favorite tiny red-headed Canadian woman, our favorite Canadian airline pilot/soccer goalie, and our favorite Haitian security detail at approximately 9am this morning. After flight delays and problems the previous few trips, we couldn’t believe our luck. We were truly walking in the favor of the Lord. Oh so we thought.

It turns out that this is Haiti. And things don’t always go according to plan. Because while Karen, Keith, and Daniel were at the airport, our bus driver and his bus were not. Apparently there was some mix-up. He was in St. Marc. But no worries. He’s a bus driver in Haiti. He took off from St. Marc and made it to the airport in a mere 45 minutes, give or take. Soon we were loaded up and on our way.

Team arrived, no bus

Double trouble

We enjoyed the scenery of the drive as always. Also, since we woke up at 3:45 we also enjoyed a nice nap or two in our cozy first class transportation. Once we finally made it to the HATS compound, we were greeted by the cheering voices of some of our favorite kids in the world. There’s no school this week due to Carnivale, so we got to see all the kids immediately on arrival. It’s been a great day of relaxing, catching up, and introducing the new folks to the kids and staff. The sign greeting us today said “Welcome Home,” and it truly feels that way. We’re so glad to be back. It’s like we never left.

Nap time enroute

Our kids did a welcome sign

Ti Fi dancing with Brooks

Ti Luc is a tad joyful with his Texas family back

Jonathan with godfather David and David's daughter, Claire

Joanna is back. Magdala not yet quite sure about her

Night time accommodations at the HATS Hilton

Now we’re off for a walk down the canal. We’ve encouraged the newbies to stay away from the edge.

A wonderful way to finish our day