Meeting the Cilema family.

Haiti and the the Dominican Republic (DR) share the island of Hispaniola. Since the DR is wealthier than Haiti, many desperate Haitians attempt to find jobs in the DR, despite resentment and racial tensions between the countries. Many migrants are sent back to Haiti. However, some are able to stay and work doing a variety of jobs such as cutting sugar cane, cleaning homes, or babysitting.

Francoise Cilema’s husband and brother are two of the lucky ones. They found work in the DR and have managed to avoid the mass deportations facing so many other Haitians. They are able to send money back home to support their families. Francoise’s three children (boys 4, 13, and 18) benefit from their father’s sacrifice, which also pays for them to attend school. However, there is a downside; they only get to see their father every six or seven months.

  Posing with Francoise and her three sons. Her husband works in the Dominican Republic.

When the youngest boy completes school, he wants to become a pastor. His older brothers both aspire to be engineers. We suspect that the older brothers want to be like Vincent, the Food for the Poor engineer who found their village and works with community leaders to identify and meet needs. Their younger brother may want to be like his pastor, one of the community leaders, who helps identify the families in the greatest need. Role models like these men are important to the children, particularly since they do not have a father figure in their lives most of the time.

Like their neighbors, the Cilema’s previously lived in a small house made with sticks and mud. When they received their new house, they cried for joy. The house is simply decorated. On the front porch, there is a nice wood table with drawers, painted blue. One of the boys explained that his grandfather, who had been a carpenter, made it. It is easy to see how proud they are of their grandfather’s workmanship and also of their new home.

Paula Mueller

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  • Paula Mueller
    published this page in Read Updates 2017-02-23 21:32:07 -0500

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